DNA braces for change

Summaries of newsworthy papers include Going beyond p53’s role in cancer, Natural selection shapes modern human populations and Ancient lymphocytes


For papers that will be published online on 03 February 2008

This press release is copyrighted to the Nature journals mentioned below.

This press release contains:

· Summaries of newsworthy papers:

DNA braces for change – Nature Nanotechnology

Going beyond p53’s role in cancer – Nature Medicine

Natural selection shapes modern human populations – Nature Genetics

Ancient lymphocytes – Nature Immunology

· Mention of papers to be published at the same time with the same embargo

· Geographical listing of authors

PDFs of all the papers mentioned on this release can be found in the relevant journal’s section of http://press.nature.com. Press contacts for the Nature journals are listed at the end of this release.

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**************************************NATURE NANOTECHNOLOGY***********************************


[1] DNA braces for change

DOI: 10.1038/nnano.2008.3

Dynamic DNA nanostructures can change their shape in response to specific molecular signals, according to a study to be published online this week in Nature Nanotechnology. The ability to rearrange well-defined 3D assemblies may have implications for the fabrication of nanomechanical devices or for drug-release applications.

Although DNA is best known as the molecule that encodes genetic information, it is also an incredibly versatile building material at the nanoscale. Many examples of DNA nanostructures have been reported, but potential uses are somewhat limited by their static nature.

Andrew Turberfield and co-workers have made DNA tetrahedra containing edges that can be expanded and contracted to change the overall shape of the assembly. They constructed a nanodevice that can be cycled through four different states by incorporating two different reconfigurable edges in a single DNA tetrahedron. In principle, this process could be used to produce useful motion by integrating the tetrahedra into larger structures.

Author contact:
Andrew Turberfield (University of Oxford, UK)
Tel: +44 1865 272 359; E-mail: [email protected]

Other papers from Nature Nanotechnology to be published online at the same time and with the same embargo:

[2] An all-metallic logic gate based on current-driven domain wall motion

DOI: 10.1038/nnano.2008.1

[3] Quantum size effect in TiO2 nanoparticles prepared by finely controlled metal assembly on dendrimer templates
DOI: 10.1038/nnano.2008.2

[4] Molecular discrimination inside polymer nanotubules

DOI: 10.1038/nnano.2008.6

[5] Self-assembly: DNA gets a little cagey

DOI: 10.1038/nnano.2008.24

*******************************************Nature MEDICINE********************************************


[6] Going beyond p53’s role in cancer

DOI: 10.1038/nm1725

The tumour suppressor p53 has physiological roles beyond cancer, suggests a paper online in Nature Medicine this week. The molecule could aid in the prevention of birth defects associated with the craniofacial disease Treacher Collins syndrome (TCS).

TCS is a congenital disorder of craniofacial development that can be accompanied by hearing loss, facial bone abnormalities and cleft palate. The disease is caused by mutations in TCOF1, which encodes a protein known as Treacle that is relevant to ribosomal function. Paul Trainor and his colleagues show that inhibition of p53 in mice rescues the craniofacial abnormalities associated with mutations in Tcof1 by preventing the death of neural crest cells.

The work provides the first evidence that p53 plays an important role in other diseases and implies that its suppression might be an attractive avenue for future research.

Author contact:

Paul Trainor (Stowers Institute, Kansas City, MO, USA)

Tel: +1 816 926 4414; E-mail: [email protected]

Other papers from Nature Medicine to be published online at the same time and with the same embargo:

[7] Beta-catenin stabilization extends regulatory T cell survival and induces anergy in nonregulatory T cells

DOI: 10.1038/nm1707

[8] Engineering attenuated virus vaccines by controlling replication fidelity

DOI: 10.1038/nm1726

[9] Mouse models of rhinovirus-induced disease and exacerbation of allergic airway inflammation

DOI: 10.1038/nm1713

***********************************************NATURE GENETICS **************************************


[10] Natural selection shapes modern human populations

DOI: 10.1038/ng.78

Natural selection has influenced the morphological and disease-related diversity of modern human populations, according to a study published online this week in Nature Genetics. The paper suggests that newly identified variants exhibiting reduced differentiation across populations might become medically relevant.

Several recent genome-wide studies have established that many regions of the human genome are under selection, but the degree to which this selective pressure has shaped the differences between modern human populations has been unclear.

Lluís Quintana-Murci and colleagues analyzed more than 2.8 million single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) from the second phase of the HapMap project. They show that positive selection has promoted the regional adaptation of human populations by increasing population differentiation in particular gene regions. Genes showing the strongest signature of positive selection are involved in skin pigmentation and hair development, immune response to pathogens, sensory functions such as olfaction and eye development, and insulin regulation. They also show that negative selection has reduced the degree of population differentiation in genetic variants that are associated with disease.

Author contact:

Lluís Quintana-Murci (Institut Pasteur, Paris, France)

Tel: +33 1 40 61 34 43; E-mail: [email protected]

Other papers from Nature Genetics to be published online at the same time and with the same embargo:

[11] Unprotected Drosophila melanogaster telomeres activate the spindle assembly checkpoint

DOI: 10.1038/ng.2007.64

[12] Distinct mitochondrial retrograde signals control the G1-S cell cycle checkpoint

DOI: 10.1038/ng.2007.50

*******************************************NATURE IMMUNOLOGY ************************************


[13] Ancient lymphocytes

DOI: 10.1038/ni1562

Researchers have identified immune cells that make antibodies in lampreys – a primitive jawless fish. The research, published online in Nature Immunology this week, shows that these fish may be among the earliest life forms in evolution to express an ‘adaptive immune system’.

The immune cells, called plasmacytes, are found in large numbers in the gills and kidneys of fish and display hallmarks of antigen specificity. These results suggest plasmacytes represent ancient B cells that provide immunity for the lamprey.

Max Cooper and colleagues show plasmacytes only respond to specific sugar or protein patterns that are found in multiple repeats, as might be found on the surface of microbes. A genetic diversification process occurs during development of these plasmacytes to generate a very large diverse array of surface ‘pattern recognition receptors’ that then act in lamprey immune surveillance. Infection or immunization then ‘selects’ a few cells from this population whose receptors form a very tight fit to the repetitive pattern expressed by the microbe.

This unique recognition of a particular molecular ‘repeat’ triggers plasmacyte proliferation and activation. Activated plasmacytes secrete soluble forms of their antibody-like ‘pattern recognition receptor’ to neutralize the invading microbe.

Author contact:

Max Cooper (University of Alabama at Birmingham, AL, USA)

Tel: +1 205 975 7203; E-mail: [email protected]

Other papers from Nature Immunology to be published online at the same time and with the same embargo:

[14] The E3 ligase Itch negatively regulates inflammatory signaling pathways by controlling the function of the ubiquitin-editing enzyme A20

DOI: 10.1038/ni1563

[15] Transcription factor KLF2 regulates the migration of naive T cells by restricting chemokine receptor expression patterns

DOI: 10.1038/ni1565


Items from other Nature journals to be published online at the same time and with the same embargo:

NATURE PHOTONICS (http://www.nature.com/nphton)

[16] A femtosecond X-ray/optical cross-correlator

DOI: 10.1038/nphoton.2007.298

[17] Picosecond and low-power all-optical switching based on organic photonic bandgap microcavity

DOI: 10.1038/nphoton.2007.299

[18] Highly confined guiding of terahertz surface plasmon polaritons on structured metal surfaces

DOI: 10.1038/nphoton.2007.301

NATURE CHEMICAL BIOLOGY (http://www.nature.com/nchembio)

[19] Identification of proteases that regulate erythrocyte rupture by the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum

DOI: 10.1038/nchembio.70

Nature PHYSICS (http://www.nature.com/naturephysics)

[20] Quantum mechanical complementarity probed in a closed-loop Aharonov–Bohm interferometer

DOI: 10.1038/nphys854

[21] Scanning-probe spectroscopy of semiconductor donor molecules

DOI: 10.1038/nphys855

NATURE MATERIALS (http://www.nature.com/naturematerials)

[22] Direct imaging of the spatial and energy distribution of nucleation centres in ferroelectric materials

DOI: 10.1038/nmat2114

[23] Collapse of magnetic moment drives the Mott transition in MnO

DOI: 10.1038/nmat2115

[24] Biofunctional polymer nanoparticles for intra-articular targeting and retention in cartilage

DOI: 10.1038/nmat2116

Nature BIOTECHNOLOGY (http://www.nature.com/naturebiotechnology)

[25] Toward the generation of rod and cone photoreceptors from mouse, monkey and human embryonic stem cells

DOI: 10.1038/nbt1384

Nature NEUROSCIENCE (http://www.nature.com/natureneuroscience)

[26] Astrocytes as determinants of disease progression in inherited amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

DOI: 10.1038/nn2047

[27] Top-down laminar organization of the excitatory network in motor cortex

DOI: 10.1038/nn2049

NATURE CELL BIOLOGY (http://www.nature.com/naturecellbiology)

[28] Osteogenic transcription factor Runx2 is a maternal determinant of dorsoventral patterning in zebrafish
DOI: 10.1038/ncb1697

NATURE METHODS (http://www.nature.com/nmeth)

[29] Extending the NMR spatial resolution limit by motional couplings

DOI: 10.1038/nmeth1180

[30] A systematic library for comprehensive overexpression screens in Saccharomyces cerevisiae

DOI: 10.1038/nmeth1181



The following list of places refers to the whereabouts of authors on the papers numbered in this release. The listing may be for an author's main affiliation, or for a place where they are working temporarily. Please see the PDF of the paper for full details.

Beijing: 2, 17

Nanjing: 19


Prague: 23


Lyon: 9

Paris: 9, 10


Augsburg: 23

Berlin: 16

Bielefeld: 1

Hamburg: 16

Halle: 22


Rehovot: 20


Ferrara: 9

L’Aquila: 11

Lecce: 11
Rome: 11


Hyogo: 16

Kobe: 25

Kyoto: 25, 26

Moriyama: 25

Saitama: 26

Tokyo: 26

Yokohama: 3


Busan: 20

Gwangju: 20

Pohang: 20


Auckland: 28


Yekaterinburg: 23


Ljubljana: 19


Madrid: 18

Zaragoza: 18


Lund: 16


Lausanne: 24


Kiev: 22


Bath: 18

Cambridge: 9, 30

Leeds: 9

London: 9, 18, 19

Manchester: 6

Oxford: 1

Stevenage: 9



Birmingham: 13


Davis: 23

La Jolla: 26

Los Angeles: 12

San Francisco: 8

Santa Cruz: 11

Stanford: 19, 27


Miami: 14


Atlanta: 19


Chicago: 27

Evanston: 27


West Lafayette: 5


Frederick: 14


Amherst: 4, 24


Ann Arbor: 29

East Lansing: 21


Kansas City: 6

St Louis: 26

New Jersey

Murray Hill: 21

New York

Bronx: 30

New York: 7


Philadelphia: 15

University Park: 22

South Carolina

Columbia: 14


Nashville: 15

Oak Ridge: 22


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Katherine Anderson (Nature London)

Tel: +44 20 7843 4502; E-mail: [email protected]

Ruth Francis (Senior Press Officer, Nature, London)

Tel: +44 20 7843 4562; E-mail: [email protected]ature.com

For media inquiries relating to editorial content/policy for the Nature Research Journals, please contact the journals individually:

Nature Biotechnology (New York)

Peter Hare

Tel: +1 212 726 9284; E-mail: [email protected]

Nature Cell Biology (London)

Bernd Pulverer

Tel: +44 20 7843 4892; E-mail: [email protected]

Nature Chemical Biology (Boston)

Andrea Garvey

Tel: +1 617 475 9241, E-mail: [email protected]

Nature Genetics (New York)

Orli Bahcall

Tel: +1 212 726 9311; E-mail: [email protected]

Nature Immunology (New York)

Laurie Dempsey

Tel: +1 212 726 9372; E-mail: [email protected]

Nature Materials (London)

Alison Stoddart

Tel: +44 20 7843 4593; E-mail: [email protected]

Nature Medicine (New York)

Juan Carlos Lopez

Tel: +1 212 726 9325; E-mail: [email protected]

Nature Methods (New York)

Allison Doerr

Tel: +1 212 726 9393; E-mail: [email protected]

Nature Nanotechnology (London)

Peter Rodgers

Tel: +44 20 7014 4019; Email: [email protected]

Nature Neuroscience (New York)

Sandra Aamodt (based in California)

Tel: +1 530 795 3256; E-mail: [email protected]

Nature Photonics (Tokyo))

Oliver Graydon

Tel: +81 3 3267 8776; E-mail: [email protected]

Nature Physics (London)

Alison Wright

Tel: +44 20 7843 4555; E-mail: [email protected]

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Published: 03 Feb 2008

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