Variants associated with blood cell and metabolic traits

Summaries of newsworthy papers: A potential new treatment for osteoporosis; Drivers of deforestation; Reprogramming with minicircles and Western Australian drought unique in 750 years?


For papers that will be published online on 07 February 2010

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

This press release contains:

· Summaries of newsworthy papers:

Medicine: A potential new treatment for osteoporosis

Geoscience: Drivers of deforestation

Genetics: Variants associated with blood cell and metabolic traits

Methods: Reprogramming with minicircles

Geoscience: Western Australian drought unique in 750 years?

· 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 Press contacts for the Nature journals are listed at the end of this release.

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[1] Medicine: A potential new treatment for osteoporosis
DOI: 10.1038/nm.2098

Blocking the synthesis of serotonin could treat osteoporosis, according to a report published this week in Nature Medicine.

Osteoporosis is a disease of low bone mass often caused by excessive loss and poor formation of bones. Serotonin is best known for its role as a brain neurotransmitter, but this molecule is also produced by the gut and inhibits bone formation.

Gerard Karsenty and his colleagues tested whether blocking serotonin biosynthesis could treat osteoporosis by increasing bone formation. The researchers developed an inhibitor of tryptophan hydroxylase, a key enzyme in serotonin biosynthesis, and administered it once daily for up to six weeks to mice and rats with osteoporosis. They found that their compound both prevented and treated osteoporosis through an increase in bone formation.

The current treatment for osteoporosis, which acts by promoting bone formation, is the daily injection of parathyroid hormone. The results of this study highlight the potential of serotonin-synthesis blockers as a new generation of drugs to fight osteoporosis.

Author Contact:
Gerard Karsenty (Columbia University, New York City, NY, USA)
Tel: +1 212 305 6398; E-mail: [email protected]

[2] Geoscience: Drivers of deforestation
DOI: 10.1038/ngeo756

Urban development is driving deforestation in the humid tropics, according to a study published online this week in Nature Geoscience. The report suggests that the movement of people from villages to cities was responsible for forest loss in the tropics between 2000 and 2005.

Ruth DeFries and colleagues used satellite-based estimates of forest loss to determine the cause of deforestation in 41 countries in the tropics between 2000 and 2005. They show that forest loss was positively correlated with urban population growth and the export of agricultural products. In contrast, rural population growth was not associated with forest lost.

The authors suggest that efforts to reduce tropical forest loss should focus on reducing deforestation for industrial-scale export-oriented agricultural production.

Author contact:
Ruth DeFries (Columbia University, New York City, NY, USA)
Tel: +1 212 851 1647; E-mail: [email protected]

[3] Genetics: Variants associated with blood cell and metabolic traits
DOI: 10.1038/ng.531

Forty-six genetic variants associated with blood cells and metabolic traits are reported in a study published online this week in Nature Genetics. This study identifies genetic loci that regulate blood cell variability and certain metabolites in a Japanese population, which may lead to greater understanding of how these are disturbed in related diseases.

The number and volume of blood cells, as well as the levels of many metabolites, are commonly measured in patients to assist with the diagnosis and management of various diseases. Naoyuki Kamatani and colleagues analyzed the genomes of nearly 15,000 Japanese individuals, measuring eight blood cell traits and 12 metabolites. The study reports 46 new genetic variants that are associated with these clinically relevant traits, which include red blood cell count, hemoglobin concentration, platelet count, and lipid profiles.

Author contact:
Naoyuki Kamatani (RIKEN, Kanagawa, Japan)
Tel: +81 45 503 9111; E-mail: [email protected]

[4] Methods: Reprogramming with minicircles
DOI 10.1038/nmeth.1426

A simple way to make human induced pluripotent stem cells without permanently modifying the genome is presented in a study published online this week in Nature Methods.

Reprogramming human cells to induced pluripotency holds great promise for research in development and disease and eventually for cell-based therapy. However, improved methods to make induced pluripotent stem cells, which ideally do not permanently modify the genome, are needed.

Joseph Wu and colleagues now report that simple minicircle vectors delivering the four required reprogramming factors can be used to reprogram two human cell types. Notably, they used minicircle-based delivery to reprogram adult human fat stem cells, which can be relatively easily obtained from humans and could provide a good source for generating patient-specific cell lines. The minicircle DNA is lost from the cells over time and does not integrate into the genome.

Author contact:
Joseph Wu (Stanford University School of Medicine, CA, USA)
Tel: +1 650 736 2246; E-mail: [email protected]

[5] Geoscience: Western Australian drought unique in 750 years?
DOI: 10.1038/ngeo761

The past few decades of serious drought in the southwestern corner of Australia may be highly unusual compared with the past 750 years, suggests a study published online this week in Nature Geoscience. The report reveals a close association between drought in southwestern Australia and high amounts of snowfall at Law Dome, East Antarctica, as a result of a pattern of atmospheric circulation that brings dry, cool air to Australia, while transporting warm, moist air to East Antarctica.

Tas van Ommen and colleague compared records of precipitation at Law Dome, Antarctica and in southwestern Australia, and found a strong inverse relationship. Ice-core data from Law Dome show that the recent snowfall anomaly at Law Dome is highly unusual relative to the variability throughout the full 750-year record, and suggest that the same may hold for the Australian drought.

The researchers point out that the airflow responsible for both southwest Australian drought and high East Antarctic snowfall is consistent with some projections for circulation changes associated with human-induced climate change.

Author contact:
Tas van Ommen (Australian Antarctic Division and Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre, Tasmania, Australia)
Tel: +61 3622 62981; E-mail: [email protected]

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

Nature (

[6] Enzyme-inhibitor-like tuning of Ca2+ channel connectivity with calmodulin
DOI: 10.1038/nature08766

[7] Organic-walled microfossils in 3.2-billion-year-old shallow-marine siliciclastic deposits
DOI: 10.1038/nature08793

[8 Tbx3 improves the germ-line competency of induced pluripotent stem cells
DOI: 10.1038/nature08735


[9] TGF-beta type II receptor phosphorylates PTH receptor to integrate bone remodelling signalling
DOI: 10.1038/ncb2022

[10] Histone H3 Thr 45 phosphorylation is a replication-associated post-translational modification in S. cerevisiae
DOI: 10.1038/ncb2030


[11] Chemical phylogenetics of histone deacetylases
DOI: 10.1038/nchembio.313

[12] Agmatine-conjugated cytidine in a tRNA anticodon is essential for AUA decoding in archaea
DOI: 10.1038/nchembio.323


[13] Synthesis of a molecular trefoil knot by folding and closing on an octahedral coordination template
DOI: 10.1038/nchem.544

[14] Exploring local currents in molecular junctions
DOI: 10.1038/nchem.546

[15] Anisotropic oxygen diffusion at low temperature in perovskite-structure iron oxides
DOI: 10.1038/nchem.547

[16] Exceptional ammonia uptake by a covalent organic framework
DOI: 10.1038/nchem.548


[17] Identification of DOK family genes as lung tumor suppressors
DOI: 10.1038/ng.527

[18] A basic helix loop helix transcription factor controls cell growth and size in root hairs
DOI: 10.1038/ng.529

[19] Variants near TERC are associated with mean telomere length
DOI: 10.1038/ng.532


[20] Mass-independent fractionation of mercury isotopes in Arctic snow driven by sunlight
DOI: 10.1038/ngeo758

[21] Carbon sequestration activated by a volcanic CO2 pulse during ocean anoxic event 2
DOI: 10.1038/ngeo757


[22] HVCN1 modulates BCR signal strength via regulation of BCR-dependent generation of reactive oxygen species
DOI: 10.1038/ni.1843

[23] Chromogranin A is an autoantigen in type 1 diabetes
DOI: 10.1038/ni.1844


[24] Transition from strong-yet-brittle to stronger-and-ductile by size reduction of metallic glasses
DOI: 10.1038/nmat2622


[25] Development of replication-defective lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus vectors for the induction of potent CD8+ T cell immunity
DOI: 10.1038/nm.2104


[26] MAZe: a tool for mosaic analysis of gene function in zebrafish
DOI: 10.1038/nmeth.1423

[27] Computational prediction of neural progenitor cell fates
DOI: 10.1038/nmeth.1424

[28] Silencing neurotransmission with membrane-tethered toxins
DOI: 10.1038/nmeth.1425


[29] Bimodal control of stimulated food intake by the endocannabinoid system
DOI: 10.1038/nn.2494

[30] Opioids activate brain analgesic circuits through cytochrome P450/Epoxygenase signaling
DOI: 10.1038/nn.2497

[31] Disrupted-in-Schizophrenia-1 (DISC1) regulates spines of the glutamate synapse via Rac1
DOI: 10.1038/nn.2487

[32] Diversity and wiring variability of olfactory local interneurons in the Drosophila antennal lobe
DOI: 10.1038/nn.2489


[33] Aperiodic volume optics

[34] Entanglement distillation from Gaussian input states

[35] Random distributed feedback fibre laser

[36] Coherent mixing of mechanical excitations in nano-optomechanical structures

Nature PHYSICS (

[37] Laser oscillation in a strongly coupled single-quantum-dot–nanocavity system
DOI: 10.1038/nphys1518


[38] Systematic identification of fragile sites via genome-wide location analysis of gamma-H2AX
DOI: 10.1038/nsmb.1754

[39] Intersubunit capture of regulatory segments is a component of cooperative CaMKII activation
DOI: 10.1038/nsmb.1751

[40] One SNARE complex is sufficient for membrane fusion
DOI: 10.1038/nsmb.1748

[41] SF2/ASF autoregulation involves multiple layers of post-transcriptional and translational control
DOI: 10.1038/nsmb.1750

[42] alpha-Helical nascent polypeptide chains visualized within distinct regions of the ribosomal exit tunnel
DOI: 10.1038/nsmb.1756


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.

Tasmania: 5

Liege: 7

Fortaleza: 27

London: 26
Montreal: 27, 38
Toronto: 38
Vancouver: 22
Winnipeg: 7

Beijing: 8
Hangzhou: 18
Shihezi: 9

Bordeaux: 29
Marseille: 18
Rennes: 15

Berlin: 25, 28, 42
Goettingen: 40
Munich: 25, 42
Ulm: 25

Bangalore: 1
Lucknow: 1

Dublin: 21

Jerusalem: 41

Kanazawa: 3
Kyoto: 15
Tokyo: 3, 34, 37

Amsterdam: 30
Groningen: 19

Novosibirsk: 35

Singapore: 8

Leioia: 29
Madrid: 35

Basel: 28
Bern: 25
Epalinges: 25
Geneva: 25
Lausanne: 25
Zurich: 25

Birmingham: 22, 35
Cambridge: 19, 22
Glasgow: 31
Hinxton: 19
Leeds: 19
Leicester: 19, 22
London: 19
Macclesfield: 13
Norwich: 18
Oxford: 18, 22
Sheffield: 13


Fort Wainwright: 20

Berkeley: 39
Duarte: 31
La Jolla: 10
Los Angeles: 16
Palo Alto: 39
Pasadena: 24, 36
San Diego: 23
San Francisco: 39
Stanford: 4, 32

Boulder: 33
Denver: 23

Athens: 13

Evanston: 14, 21
Chicago: 22, 31

Iowa City: 17

Lawrence: 7
Pittsburg: 23

Baltimore: 6, 9, 31
Bethesda: 25

Boston: 1, 8, 11, 17, 32, 42
Cambridge: 8

Ann Arbor: 20

New Jersey
Piscataway: 2
Princeton: 31
Rahway: 41

New York
Albany: 30
Buffalo: 31
Cold Spring Harbor: 41
New York: 1, 2, 17
Rochester: 30
Stony Brook: 41
Troy: 27, 30

South Dakota
Brookings: 2

Austin: 11

Charlottesville: 10, 30

Seattle: 25

Milwaukee: 27


For media inquiries relating to embargo policy for all the Nature Research Journals:

Rachel Twinn (Nature London)
Tel: +44 20 7843 4658; E-mail: [email protected]

Neda Afsarmanesh (Nature New York)
Tel: +1 212 726 9231; E-mail: [email protected]

Ruth Francis (Head of Press, Nature, London)
Tel: +44 20 7843 4562; E-mail: [email protected]

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

Nature Biotechnology (New York)
Michael Francisco
Tel: +1 212 726 9284; E-mail: [email protected]

Nature Cell Biology (London)
Sowmya Swaminathan
Tel: +44 20 7843 4656; E-mail: [email protected]

Nature Chemical Biology (Boston)
Sarah Daniels
Tel: +1 617 475 9241, E-mail: [email protected]

Nature Chemistry (London)
Stuart Cantrill
Tel: +44 20 7014 4018; E-mail: [email protected]

Nature Genetics (New York)
Myles Axton
Tel: +1 212 726 9324; E-mail: [email protected]

Nature Geoscience (London)
Heike Langenberg
Tel: +44 20 7843 4042; E-mail: [email protected]

Nature Immunology (New York)
Laurie Dempsey
Tel: +1 212 726 9372; E-mail: [email protected]

Nature Materials (London)
Vincent Dusastre
Tel: +44 20 7843 4531; E-mail: [email protected]

Nature Medicine (New York)
Juan Carlos Lopez
Tel: +1 212 726 9325; E-mail: [email protected]

Nature Methods (New York)
Hugh Ash
Tel: +1 212 726 9627; E-mail: [email protected]

Nature Nanotechnology (London)
Peter Rodgers
Tel: +44 20 7014 4019; Email: [email protected]

Nature Neuroscience (New York)
Kalyani Narasimhan
Tel: +1 212 726 9319; 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]

Nature Structural & Molecular Biology (New York)
Michelle Montoya
Tel: +1 212 726 9326; E-mail: [email protected]

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Published: 07 Feb 2010

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