Gene dosing, cancer and Down’s syndrome

What makes a moon?; Tracing Jewish roots; Sex bias in trials and treatment must end; ‘Random walk’ helps predators find food; Supply and demand; Stem-cell promise; Bubbles from bubbles

This press release contains:

· Summaries of newsworthy papers:

Planetary science: What makes a moon?

Genetics: Tracing Jewish roots

Opinion: Sex bias in trials and treatment must end

Marine biology: ‘Random walk’ helps predators find food

Molecular biology: Supply and demand

Genetics: Stem-cell promise

Cancer: Gene dosing, cancer and Down’s syndrome

And finally… Bubbles from bubbles

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

· Geographical listing of authors

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[1] Planetary science: What makes a moon? (pp752-754; N&V)

The main moons that orbit the giant planets are thought to have finished forming when their planets did, about 4.5 billion years ago. Yet some of Saturn’s small moons are too young (less than 10 million years old) for this to have been the case.

One possibility is that the moons formed at the edge of Saturn’s rings — aggregates of ice particles as well as some rocky debris and dust. But until recently, insufficient computing power made it impossible to model how this process might have occurred.

In this week’s Nature, Sébastien Charnoz and colleagues use a hydrodynamical model to follow the evolution of the rings, and an orbital model to track the birth of the moonlets and assess how their formation is affected by the other rings and Saturn itself.

Through their hybrid simulation, the group show how the spreading of Saturn’s rings beyond the Roche limit (the distance from the planet beyond which the rings become gravitationally unstable) could have given rise to the small moons.

Sébastien Charnoz (Université Paris Diderot, France)
Tel: +33 1 69 08 61 30
E-mail: [email protected]

Joseph Burns (Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA) N&V author
Tel: +1 607 255 7186
E-mail: [email protected]

[2] Genetics: Tracing Jewish roots (AOP)
DOI: 10.1038/nature09103

This paper will be published electronically on Nature's website on 09 June at 1800 London time / 1300 US Eastern Time (which is also when the embargo lifts) as part of our AOP (ahead of print) programme. Although we have included it on this release to avoid multiple mailings it will not appear in print on 10 June, but at a later date.

In this week’s Nature, Doron Behar and colleagues use genomics to uncover the complex demographic history of Jewish people.

By comparing genomic data from 14 Jewish communities across the world with that from 69 non-Jewish populations, including non-Jews from neighbouring or the same geographic regions, Behar and his team reveal a close relationship between most of today’s Jews and non-Jewish populations from the Levant. This fits with the idea that most contemporary Jews have descended from ancient Hebrew and Israelite residents of the Levant.

In contrast, Ethiopian and Indian Jewish communities cluster with neighbouring non-Jewish populations in Ethiopia and western India, respectively. This may be partly because a greater degree of genetic, religious and cultural crossover took place when the Jewish communities in these areas became established.


Doron Behar (Rambam Health Care Campus, Haifa, Israel)
Tel: +972 52 630 6405
E-mail: [email protected]

Opinion: Sex bias in trials and treatment must end (pp 688-690)

Gender inequalities in biomedical research are undermining patient care, argue three related Opinion pieces in this week’s Nature. The articles call on journals, funders and researchers to mandate concrete action to end the bias.

Fewer women than men are recruited to clinical trials, and fewer female animals are used in laboratory studies. This is despite known sex differences in disease incidence, prevalence, symptoms, age at onset and severity for many conditions, including cardiovascular disease, strokes and depression. As a result, patients and physicians have insufficient information about how some common diseases play out in women, and how women respond to treatments.

Alison Kim, Candace Tingen and Teresa Woodruff propose that publishers, funding agencies and scientists demand “at least the inclusion of women in numbers that match the abundance in the general population of the condition being studied”, as well as sex-specific analysis of results, and the clear labelling of studies that fall down on these counts. Irving Zucker and Annaliese Beery make a plea for similar “stringent measures” to require parity in animal studies. They include a survey of recently published animal models of disease that finds alarming gender gaps.

In another piece Françoise Baylis argues that the standard practice of excluding pregnant women from clinical trials is ethically and medically unacceptable and must stop. “Pregnant women get sick, and sick women get pregnant,” writes Baylis, but it is impossible to calculate dosage and safety by extrapolating from data on men and non-pregnant women. She discusses ways that study designs could alter to account for the necessary safety considerations.


Teresa Woodruff (Northwestern University, Chicago, IL, USA)
Please contact via:
Marla Paul (Senior Health Sciences Editor, Northwestern University)
Tel: +1 312 503 8928
E-mail: [email protected]

Irving Zucker (University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA)
E-mail: [email protected]

Françoise Baylis (Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada)
E-mail: [email protected]

[3] Marine biology: ‘Random walk’ helps predators find food (AOP)
DOI: 10.1038/nature09116

This paper will be published electronically on Nature's website on 09 June at 1800 London time / 1300 US Eastern Time (which is also when the embargo lifts) as part of our AOP (ahead of print) programme. Although we have included it on this release to avoid multiple mailings it will not appear in print on 10 June, but at a later date.

Marine predators sometimes adopt a specialized ‘random walk’ to help them find food, a Nature paper suggests.

Fish such as tuna and sharks adopt a so-called Lévy-flight strategy to forage for food when stocks are patchy and unpredictable, David Sims and colleagues report. They perform short exploratory ‘hops’ interspersed occasionally with longer foraging trips. But when food is more abundant, they switch to a Brownian movement pattern of swimming.

The Lévy-flight foraging strategy is not a new idea, but evidence for its occurrence in wild animals has proved controversial. This large data set includes over 12 million recorded movements collected over 5,700 days by electronic tags attached to open-ocean predatory fish. As such it provides a wealth of detailed information and empirical evidence that supports the occurrence of Lévy searching in wild animals in their natural environment.


David Sims (Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom,
Plymouth, UK)
Tel: +44 1752 633227
E-mail: [email protected]

[4] Molecular biology: Supply and demand (pp 793-797)

One of the challenges our bodies face when dealing with an infection is replenishing the diverse array of blood cells that are used up in trying to combat it. Unlike for progenitor cells such as common myeloid progenitors and common lymphoid progenitors, the contribution of haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) to this process is largely unknown.

Describing their findings in this week’s Nature, Margaret Goodell and colleagues injected mice with Mycobacterium avium, a close relative of the bacterium that causes tuberculosis. The infection caused a sharp increase in the proportion of proliferating HSCs in the mice.

Goodell and her team also showed that the major signal for this stem cell response to M. avium infection is the cytokine interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma): HSCs did not proliferate as much in mice lacking components of the IFN-gamma signalling pathway. Understanding how HSCs respond to infection could lead to a greater knowledge of the pathophysiology of bone marrow suppression in patients with chronic infections such as HIV and tuberculosis.

Margaret Goodell (Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, USA)
Tel: +1 713 798 1265
E-mail: [email protected]

[5] Genetics: Stem-cell promise (pp 808-812)

In a study in this week’s Nature, Ihor Lemischka and colleagues describe how they have created and characterized induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) from two patients with LEOPARD syndrome — a developmental disorder that affects several organs and tissues. The work will help researchers to understand how the disorder affects patients at a cellular level.

Populations of iPSCs from patients with defined genetic disorders could prove to be invaluable tools for medical geneticists wanting to understand the bases of complex diseases. One of the conditions commonly found in LEOPARD patients is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, where a portion of the heart muscle is thicker than it should be. Lemischka and his group show that heart muscle cells derived from LEOPARD syndrome iPSCs show distinct differences from normal cells. For example, they are larger and the multi-protein complexes inside the muscle cells, called sarcomeres, are organized differently.

Ihor Lemischka (Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY, USA)
Tel: +1 212 659 8228
E-mail: [email protected]

[6] Cancer: Gene dosing, cancer and Down’s syndrome (pp 813-817)

A new mouse study in this week’s Nature may help explain why people with Down’s syndrome have a lower risk of certain cancers.

Kairbaan M. Hodivala-Dilke and colleagues have identified several genes that reduce the growth of tumours and their associated blood vessels in a mouse model of Down’s syndrome. It is well known that Down’s syndrome is caused by an extra copy of chromosome 21, and the team suspect that the presence of an extra third copy of these genes may help reduce tumour growth in people with the condition. It is also hoped the mouse model will boost the identification of other anti-angiogenic targets relevant to a broad spectrum of cancer patients.

Kairbaan Hodivala-Dilke (Queen Mary University of London, UK)
Tel: +44 1727 853052 or: +44 7766 147010
E-mail: [email protected]

[7] And finally… Bubbles from bubbles (pp 759-762)

There’s much more to a burst bubble than meets the eye, according to a paper in this week’s Nature. When conditions are right, a bursting bubble can create numerous small bubbles — with potential implications in fields ranging from health care and climate to biotechnology and glass manufacturing.

When a bubble sitting on a liquid or solid surface bursts, we expect it simply to disappear. Using high-speed videography, James Bird and colleagues have taken a closer look at bursting bubbles, and find that often what happens is much more complicated. As the surface of the ruptured bubble retracts into the liquid, it can trap air, forming a ring that breaks up into smaller, daughter bubbles.

By combining experiment, numerical simulations and theory, the authors show how the formation of daughter bubbles depends on fluid properties such as density, viscosity and surface tension. Because smaller bubbles have a higher internal pressure, they absorb gas into the liquid more effectively, and disperse small aerosol droplets more efficiently when the bubbles burst. Aerosol droplets from bursting bubbles have been implicated in disease transmission, and in the exchange of material and heat between the ocean and the atmosphere. This new understanding of bursting bubbles will be valuable in such contexts and for
controlling industrial processes in which bubble formation can be detrimental.


James Bird (Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA)
Tel: +1 617 894 1029
E-mail: [email protected]


[8] Electron localization following attosecond molecular photoionization (pp 763-767)

[9] The lead isotopic age of the Earth can be explained by core formation alone (pp 767-770)

[10] Crystal structure of HIV-1 Tat complexed with human P-TEFb (pp 747-751)


The following list of places refers to the whereabouts of authors on the papers numbered in this release. For example, London: 4 - this means that on paper number four, there will be at least one author affiliated to an institute or company in London. 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.

North Ryde: 9

Medellin: 8

Tartu: 2

Gif-sur-Yvette: 1
Marseille: 6
Nice: 1
Rennes: 7
Villeurbane: 8

Berlin: 8
Garching: 8
Münster: 6

Cork: 3

Haifa: 2
Tel Aviv: 2

Genoa: 6
Milan: 8
Pavia: 2
Rome: 5

Amsterdam: 8
Utrecht: 5

Porto: 2
Vairão: 3

Moscow: 2
Ufa: 2

Barcelona: 2
Madrid: 5, 8
Granada: 6

Lund: 8

Geneva: 6
Zurich: 3

Aberdeen: 3
Belfast: 3
Birmingham: 6
Cambridge: 1
London: 2, 6, 8
Oxford: 9
Swansea: 3
Plymouth: 3


Tucson: 2

La Jolla: 3

Honolulu: 3

Iowa City: 10

Cambridge: 7

Omaha: 10

New Jersey
Princeton: 7

New York
New York: 5

Houston: 4


From North America and Canada
Neda Afsarmanesh, Nature New York
Tel: +1 212 726 9231
E-mail: [email protected]

From Japan, Korea, China, Singapore and Taiwan
Mika Nakano, Nature Tokyo
Tel: +81 3 3267 8751
E-mail: [email protected]

From the UK
Rebecca Walton, Nature, London
Tel: +44 20 7843 4502
E-mail: [email protected]

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Published: 09 Jun 2010

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