Squeezing data onto a laser

Summaries of newsworthy papers - Geoscience: Better earthquake risk maps needed; Chemical Biology: Commodity chemicals by design; Structural & Molecular Biology: Connecting genetics to diseases; Nanotechnology: A superconducting first near absolute zero; Genetics: Risk variant for prostate cancer in African-American men


For papers that will be published online on 22 May 2011

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

This press release contains:

Summaries of newsworthy papers:

Photonics: Squeezing data onto a laser
Geoscience: Better earthquake risk maps needed
Chemical Biology: Commodity chemicals by design
Structural & Molecular Biology: Connecting genetics to diseases
Genetics: Loci associated with severity in cystic fibrosis
Nanotechnology: A superconducting first near absolute zero
Genetics: Risk variant for prostate cancer in African-American men

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

Geographical listing of authors

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[1] Photonics: Squeezing data onto a laser
DOI: 10.1038/nphoton.2011.74

Scientists have developed a single-laser system that can carry optical data at transmission rates of up to 26 terabits per second—the highest ever reported for a single laser. The work, published online this week in Nature Photonics, will not only help to fulfil the ever-increasing demands of high-bandwidth communication but also provide an environmentally friendly way of transmitting information over long distances.

Achieving terabit-per-second optical transmission rates usually requires the use of multiple lasers and/or complex modulation formats. Juerg Leuthold and co-workers used a single laser to generate 325 optical frequencies within a narrow spectral band of laser wavelengths from 1,533–1,565.5 nm and transmitted the encoded data over 50 km of standard single-mode fibre at data rates of up to 26 terabits per second. The success of the technique is largely due the use of an optical fast Fourier transformation encoding and decoding scheme, which is capable of processing high-bit-rate data in an energy-efficient, real-time manner.

The achievement suggests that high-speed optical signal processing could be the answer for meeting the needs of future energy-efficient communication.

Author contact:
Juerg Leuthold (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany)
Tel: +49 721 608 42480; E-mail: [email protected]

[2] Geoscience: Better earthquake risk maps needed
DOI: 10.1038/ngeo1168

The highest death rates in earthquakes of the past 120 years occurred in locations in the continental interior, where shaking was not necessarily anticipated. A concerted effort is therefore needed to map faults and seismic risk away from the known earthquake zones argues a Commentary online this week in Nature Geoscience.

Philip England and James Jackson classify by location 130 earthquakes of the past 120 years that killed more than 1,000 people. Those in well-known seismic zones on plate boundaries caused about 800,000 deaths, whereas those in less expected locations in the continental interior killed around 1.4 million people. Furthermore, death rates among people exposed to severe shaking were substantially higher in the continental interior.

The authors urge to focus scientific priority on mapping seismic risk in interior regions, such as the Alpine–Himalayan region that stretches across Eurasia, so that societies at risk can make informed decisions on where to concentrate their resources for improvements in resilience.

Author contact:
Philip England (Oxford University, UK)
Tel: +44 1865 282146; E-mail: [email protected]

[3] Chemical Biology: Commodity chemicals by design
DOI: 10.1038/nchembio.580

A new method to obtain the commercially valuable, non-natural chemical compound 1,4-butanediol—used to manufacture some types of plastics—using genetically engineered bacteria is reported online this week in Nature Chemical Biology. These results are an example of the power of metabolic engineering for environmentally friendly chemical production.

Metabolic engineering generally describes efforts to change the metabolism of a cell by introducing or altering genes that then induce the cell to synthesize a target small molecule. Often the target molecule is one that is already produced naturally, so research efforts focus on manipulating known metabolic pathways to synthesize more of the molecule, or importing genes from other organisms that are known to make the desired molecule.

To synthesize the non-natural 1,4-butanediol, Stephen Van Dien and colleagues used a comprehensive analysis method along with established engineering strategies to identify enzymes from a variety of organisms that were expected to perform known and new reactions. The authors were able to design a bacterial strain that could achieve production of near commercial levels of the compound from glucose as well as crude sugar feedstocks.

Author contact:
Stephen Van Dien (Genomatica Inc., San Diego, CA, USA)
Tel: +1 858 362 8559, Email: [email protected]

[4] Structural & Molecular Biology: Connecting genetics to diseases
DOI: 10.1038/nsmb.2059

An approach that can help researchers determine how mutations contribute to diseases, with implications for multiple sclerosis (MS), is described this week in Nature Structural & Molecular Biology.

Studies of the human genome have allowed researchers to determine which mutations are associated with certain diseases, but many of these mutations are not easily linked to a specific gene. This creates a disconnection between genetic research and disease treatment as treating a genetic disease can be difficult if you don’t know which gene to target.

Fernando Casares, Jose Luis Gomez-Skarmeta and colleagues studied the evolutionary conserved binding sites of a protein, CTCF, to DNA, which creates boundaries between genes so that their activities can be individually regulated. They show that, as predicted by CTCF binding sites, a mutation linked to MS within a region of one gene affects the adjacent neighboring gene. The methodology of examining evolutionary conserved CTCF distribution allows them to identify the gene in this region of DNA that may contribute to MS, though Casares and Gomez-Skarmeta propose that this approach may be effective for other diseases as well.

Author contacts:
Fernando Casares (Centro Andaluz de Biologia del Desarrollo, Sevilla, Spain)
Tel: +34 954 348 947; E-mail: [email protected]

José Luis Gómez-Skarmeta (Centro Andaluz de Biologia del Desarrollo, Sevilla, Spain)
Tel: +34 954 348 948; E-mail: [email protected]

[5] Genetics: Loci associated with severity in cystic fibrosis
DOI: 10.1038/ng.838

Two genetic loci found to be associated with lung disease severity in cystic fibrosis are reported in this week’s issue of Nature Genetics.

Cystic fibrosis is an inherited, progressive, frequently fatal disease that affects approximately 1 in 3000 births in Europe and the United States. Cystic fibrosis occurs mostly in Caucasians, with Northern European ancestry, although all ethnicities can be affected. Lung disease is a common source of morbidity and mortality in cystic fibrosis. Garry Cutting and colleagues analyzed the genome of almost 3,500 patients with cystic fibrosis and identified two genetic loci that are associated with severity of lung disease in cystic fibrosis.

Author contact:
Garry Cutting (Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA)
Tel: +1 410 955 1773; E-mail: [email protected]

Michael Knowles (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, USA)
Tel: +1 919 966 6780 or +1 919 966 1077; E-mail: [email protected]

[6] Nanotechnology: A superconducting first near absolute zero
DOI: 10.1038/nnano.2011.78

The first material to show superconductivity at its surface when it is not superconducting in its bulk form is reported online this week in Nature Nanotechnology.

Superconductivity is the absence of resistance to electric current in a material that has been cooled below a certain temperature, and it was first observed 100 years ago. Masashi Kawasaki and colleagues deposited metal electrodes on a single crystal of potassium tantalate and then added a drop of liquid that can conduct electricity to make a device called an electric double-layer transistor. They find that the very high electric field produced by the transistor causes the surface of the potassium tantalate crystal to become superconducting at temperatures below 0.005 of a degree above absolute zero.

Although this new material is not expected to have immediate applications, it may help researchers find other new superconductors.

Author contact:
Masashi Kawasaki (University of Tokyo, Japan)
Tel: +81 3 5841 6866; E-mail: [email protected]

[7] Genetics: Risk variant for prostate cancer in African-American men
DOI: 10.1038/ng.839

A genetic risk variant that is associated with prostate cancer in African-American men is reported online this week in Nature Genetics.

There are nearly 900,000 new cases of prostate cancer diagnosed every year, with about 258,000 deaths caused by this cancer worldwide. It is well-known that the incidence of prostate cancer is higher in men of African ancestry compared to men of non-African ancestry.

Christopher Haiman and colleagues report a new risk variant on chromosome 17q21 that is associated with prostate cancer in men of African descent. This risk variant is rare in non-African populations and appears to be specific to men of African descent.

Author contact:
Christopher Haiman (University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA)
Tel: +1 323 865 0429; E-mail: [email protected]

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

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

[8] Determinants of nucleosome organization in primary human cells
DOI: 10.1038/nature10002

[9] Tunable pKa values and the basis of opposite charge selectivities in nicotinic-type receptors
DOI: 10.1038/nature10015

[10] Detection of prokaryotic mRNA signifies microbial viability and promotes immunity
DOI: 10.1038/nature10072

[11] Telomere shortening and loss of self-renewal in dyskeratosis congenita induced pluripotent stem cells
DOI: 10.1038/nature10084

[12] Forces between clustered stereocilia minimize friction in the ear on a subnanometre scale
DOI: 10.1038/nature10073

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

[13] Autoantigen discovery with a synthetic human peptidome
DOI: 10.1038/nbt.1856

[14] Specification of transplantable astroglial subtypes from human pluripotent stem cells
DOI: 10.1038/nbt.1877

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

[15] Control of vertebrate multiciliogenesis by miR-449 through direct repression of the Delta/Notch pathway
DOI: 10.1038/ncb2241

[16] LSD1 regulates the balance between self-renewal and differentiation in human embryonic stem cells
DOI: 10.1038/ncb2246

[17] SNX27 mediates retromer tubule entry and endosome-to-plasma membrane trafficking of signalling receptors
DOI: 10.1038/ncb2252

[18] Semaphorin 3A induces CaV2:3 channel-dependent conversion of axons to dendrites
DOI: 10.1038/ncb2255

[19] Subcellular spatial regulation of canonical Wnt signalling at the primary cilium
DOI: 10.1038/ncb2259

[20] The bidirectional depolymerizer MCAK generates force by disassembling both microtubule ends
DOI: 10.1038/ncb2256

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

[21] Structure and mechanism of the diterpene cyclase ent-copalyl diphosphate synthase
DOI: 10.1038/nchembio.578

NATURE CHEMISTRY (http://www.nature.com/nchem)

[22] Ammonia formation by metal–ligand cooperative hydrogenolysis of a nitrido ligand
DOI: 10.1038/nchem.1051

[23] Strong exchange and magnetic blocking in N23–-radical-bridged lanthanide complexes
DOI: 10.1038/nchem.1063

NATURE CLIMATE CHANGE (http://www.nature.com/nclimate)
[24] Emissions markets out East
DOI: 10.1038/nclimate1124

[25] Climate change in court
DOI: 10.1038/nclimate1131

NATURE GEOSCIENCE (http://www.nature.com/ngeo)

[26] Seasonal and spatial variations of Southern Ocean diapycnal mixing from Argo profiling floats
DOI: 10.1038/ngeo1156

[27] Characteristic slip for five great earthquakes along the Fuyun fault in China
DOI: 10.1038/ngeo1158

[28] Rapid tremor reversals in Cascadia generated by a weakened plate interface
DOI: 10.1038/ngeo1157

NATURE IMMUNOLOGY (http://www.nature.com/natureimmunology)

[29] A cascade of protein kinase C isozymes promotes cytoskeletal polarization in T cells
DOI: 10.1038/ni.2033

[30] Tumor necrosis factor induces GSK3 kinase–mediated cross-tolerance to endotoxin in macrophages
DOI: 10.1038/ni.2043

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

[31] Local elastic properties of a metallic glass
DOI: 10.1038/nmat3024

[32] Collective cell guidance by cooperative intercellular forces
DOI: 10.1038/nmat3025

NATURE MEDICINE (http://www.nature.com/naturemedicine)

[33] Peptidoglycan recognition proteins kill bacteria by inducing suicide through protein-sensing two-component systems
DOI: 10.1038/nm.2357

[34] Kinome screening for regulators of the estrogen receptor identifies LMTK3 as a new therapeutic target in breast cancer
DOI: 10.1038/nm.2351

[35] Lrp5 functions in bone to regulate bone mass
DOI: 10.1038/nm.2388

[36] A clinical microchip for evaluation of single immune cells reveals high functional heterogeneity in phenotypically similar T cells
DOI: 10.1038/nm.2375

[37] Iduna protects the brain from glutamate excitotoxicity and stroke by interfering with parthanatos
DOI: 10.1038/nm.2387

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

[38] High-throughput analysis of single hematopoietic stem cell proliferation in microfluidic cell culture arrays
DOI: 10.1038/nmeth.1614

NATURE NANOTECHNOLOGY (http://www.nature.co0m/nnano)

[39] Spin–orbit-driven ferromagnetic resonance
DOI: 10.1038/nnano.2011.68

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

[40] The SK2-long isoform directs synaptic localization and function of SK2-containing channels
DOI: 10.1038/nn.2832

[41] A differentially amplified motion in the ear for near-threshold sound detection
DOI: 10.1038/nn.2827

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

[42] Active spatial control of plasmonic fields
DOI: 10.1038/nphoton.2011.57

[43] Focusing and compression of ultrashort pulses through scattering media
DOI: 10.1038/nphoton.2011.72

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

[44] Quantifying how DNA stretches, melts and changes twist under tension
DOI: 10.1038/nphys2002

[45] Electron-spin excitation coupling in an electron-doped copper oxide superconductor
DOI: 10.1038/nphys2006

[46] Multicomponent fractional quantum Hall effect in graphene
DOI: 10.1038/nphys2007

NATURE STRUCTURAL & MOLECULAR BIOLOGY (http://www.nature.com/natstructmolbiol)

[47] X-ray structure of a functional full-length dynein motor domain
DOI: 10.1038/nsmb.2074

[48] Structure of the ATP synthase catalytic complex (F1) from Escherichia coli in an auto-inhibited conformation
DOI: 10.1038/nsmb.2058


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.

Vienna: 19

Bridgetown: 7

Montreal: 5
Quebec: 37
Toronto: 5
Vancouver: 5, 38

Beijing: 41, 45
Jiangsu: 21
Qingdao: 26
Shanghai: 14
Xian: 41

Prague: 39

Copenhagen: 44

Bordeaux: 15
Grenoble: 45
Marseille: 15
Nice: 15
Orleans: 10
Paris: 12, 27, 44
Reims: 15
Sophia Antipolis: 15

Berlin-Buch: 35
Bochum: 1
Boeblingen: 1
Dresden: 12
Erlangen: 22
Frankfurt am Main: 22
Goettingen: 31
Karlsruhe: 1
Kiel: 26
Munich: 22
Saarbruecken: 1, 31

Legon: 7

Nes Ziona: 1
Rehovot: 43

Okazaki: 40
Osaka: 47
Saitama: 20, 47
Sapporo: 40
Sendai: 6
Tokyo: 6, 20, 47
Tsukuba: 46
Uji: 18
Yokohama: 18

Mexico City: 4

Amsterdam: 10, 42, 44
Enschede: 42
Oss: 35
Wageningen: 10, 12

Oporto: 4

Dhahran: 45

Dakar: 7

Singapore: 20, 27

Daejeon: 3

Albacete: 40
Barcelona: 4, 16, 32
Granada: 4
Madrid: 4
Seville: 4

Stockholm: 41

Zurich: 1

Kampala: 7

Cambridge: 2, 39
London: 34
Nottingham: 34, 39
Oxford: 2
Southampton: 1


Birmingham: 37

Phoenix: 7

Berkeley: 23, 45
Fremont: 7
Irvine: 23
La Jolla: 13, 16, 19
Los Angeles: 7, 34, 36
Pasadena: 36
San Diego: 3
San Francisco: 7, 17
Santa Clara: 13
Stanford: 8, 11, 45

Boulder: 11
Lafayette: 34

New Haven: 36

Boca Raton: 40
Miami: 7
Tallahassee: 46

Athens: 33
Atlanta: 5, 7

Honolulu: 7

Chicago: 7
Urbana: 9, 21

Indianapolis: 35
West Lafayette: 35

Ames: 21

Baltimore: 5, 7, 37
Bethesda: 4, 7, 11
Gaithersburg: 45
Rockville: 7

Boston: 13, 32, 35
Cambridge: 13, 32
Chestnut Hill: 45

Ann Arbor: 7, 10, 41
Detroit: 7
Grand Rapids: 35

St Louis: 7

New York
Buffalo: 39
New York: 7, 10, 12, 29, 30, 46
Stony Brook: 7
Syracuse: 48

North Carolina
Chapel Hill: 5
Winston-Salem: 7

Cleveland: 5, 35

Portland: 5, 40, 41

Philadelphia: 7, 21, 48

Knoxville: 45
Nashville: 7
Oak Ridge: 45

Houston: 7
San Antonio: 5
The Woodlands: 35

Provo: 8

Portsmouth: 5

Seattle: 7, 26, 28, 41

Madison: 14


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 9288; E-mail: [email protected]

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

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

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

Nature Climate Change (London)
Olive Heffernan
Tel: +44 20 7014 4009; 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)
Sabbi Lall
Tel: +1 212 726 9326; E-mail: [email protected]

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Published: 22 May 2011

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