A new type of supernovae

Summaries of newsworthy papers - Biology: Target for type 2 diabetes and obesity treatment; Comment: End the bias against non-native species; Virology: Modelling HCV; Quantum physics: Catching the wavefunction; Chemistry: Probing the air–water interface; Flies hot-foot it to safety; Stem cells: Mending a broken heart


This press release is copyright Nature.

VOL.474 NO.7350 DATED 09 JUNE 2011

This press release contains:

· Summaries of newsworthy papers:

Astronomy: A new type of supernovae

Biology: Target for type 2 diabetes and obesity treatment

Comment: End the bias against non-native species

Astronomy: X-rays shed light on fading supernovae

Geoscience: Tropical glacier retreat and climate change

Cancer: Monocytes, signals, metastasis

Virology: Modelling HCV

Quantum physics: Catching the wavefunction

Chemistry: Probing the air–water interface

Flies hot-foot it to safety

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

· Geographical listing of authors

Editorial contacts: While the best contacts for stories will always be the authors themselves, in some cases the Nature editor who handled the paper will be available for comment if an author is unobtainable. Editors are contactable via Ruth Francis on +44 20 7843 4562. Feel free to get in touch with Nature's press contacts in London, Washington and Tokyo (as listed at the end of this release) with any general editorial inquiry.

Warning: This document, and the Nature papers to which it refers, may contain information that is price sensitive (as legally defined, for example, in the UK Criminal Justice Act 1993 Part V) with respect to publicly quoted companies. Anyone dealing in securities using information contained in this document or in advanced copies of Nature’s content may be guilty of insider trading under the US Securities Exchange Act of 1934.

The Nature journals press site is at http://press.nature.com

· PDFs for the Articles, Letters, Progress articles, Review articles, Insights and Brief Communications in this issue will be available on the Nature journals press site from 1400 London time / 0900 US Eastern Time on the Friday before publication.
· PDFs of News & Views, News Features, Correspondence and Commentaries will be available from 1400 London time / 0900 US Eastern Time on the Monday before publication

PICTURES: While we are happy for images from Nature to be reproduced for the purposes of contemporaneous news reporting, you must also seek permission from the copyright holder (if named) or author of the research paper in question (if not).

HYPE: We take great care not to hype the papers mentioned on our press releases, but are sometimes accused of doing so. If you ever consider that a story has been hyped, please do not hesitate to contact us at [email protected], citing the specific example.


[1] Astronomy: A new type of supernovae (AOP)
DOI: 10.1038/nature10095

***This paper will be published electronically on Nature's website on 08 June at 1800 London time / 1300 US Eastern Time 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 09 June, but at a later date. ***

A new class of supernovae ten times brighter than type Ia supernovae has been discovered, according to an article published in Nature this week.

In all known supernovae, the observed electromagnetic radiation comes from radioactive decay of newly synthesized elements, stored heat deposited by the explosion, or interaction between the debris and slow-moving, hydrogen-rich surrounding medium. Robert Quimby and colleagues observe a class of luminous supernovae whose properties cannot be explained by any of these processes. The luminous supernovae do not show any trace of hydrogen and emit substantial ultraviolet flux for extended periods of time. These long-lived ultraviolet-luminous events, which light up their surroundings, may enable high-resolution spectroscopy to probe distant star-forming regions and primitive galaxies.

Robert Quimby (California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, USA)
Tel: +1 626 395 5927; E-mail: [email protected]

[2] Biology: Target for type 2 diabetes and obesity treatment (AOP)
DOI: 10.1038/nature10112

***This paper will be published electronically on Nature's website on 08 June at 1800 London time / 1300 US Eastern Time 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 09 June, but at a later date. ***

Scientists have identified a new target for the treatment of type 2 diabetes and obesity. Research published in Nature this week shows that specific microRNAs are negative regulators of insulin sensitivity, which is implicated in the pathogenesis of obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Markus Stoffel and colleagues demonstrate that the expression of microRNAs 103 and 107 (miR-103/107) is upregulated in mouse models of obesity. Activation of these microRNAs in liver or fat cells impairs glucose homeostasis, whereas silencing them improves glucose homeostasis and insulin sensitivity. The microRNAs affect levels of a protein called caveolin-1, which is involved in regulation of insulin signalling. Inactivation of miR-103/107 in fat cells leads to upregulation of caveolin-1, stabilization of the insulin receptor, enhanced insulin signalling, decreased fat-cell size and increased insulin-stimulated glucose uptake.

The finding that silencing miR-103/107 improves glucose homeostasis indicates that these microRNAs are novel therapeutic targets for the treatment of diabetes.

Markus Stoffel (ETH Zurich, Switzerland)
Tel: +41 44 633 45 60; E-mail: [email protected]

Comment: End the bias against non-native species (pp 153-154)

Over the past few decades, a vast amount of time and money has been poured into efforts to remove, or at least curb, populations of introduced or ‘non-native’ species.

In a Comment in this week’s Nature, Mark Davis and 18 other ecologists from around the world argue that climate change, nitrogen eutrophication, increased urbanization and other changes in land use are making the native-versus-alien species dichotomy in conservation increasingly meaningless.
Although some species introduced by humans have driven extinctions and damaged ecosystems, nativeness is not, in itself, a sign of a species having positive effects. Many ‘invaders’ benefit local biodiversity. And the insect currently suspected to be killing more trees than any other in North America is the native mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae).

Davis and his co-authors urge conservationists and land managers to “ditch this preoccupation with the native–alien dichotomy and embrace more dynamic and pragmatic approaches to the conservation and management of species — approaches better suited to our fast-changing planet.”
“It is time for conservationists to focus much more on the functions of species, and much less on where species originated,” the authors conclude.

Mark Davis (Macalester College, St Paul, MN, USA)
Tel: +1 651 696 6102 or tel: +1 651 983 6166; E-mail: [email protected]

[3] Astronomy: X-rays shed light on fading supernovae (AOP)
DOI: 10.1038/nature10090

***This paper will be published electronically on Nature's website on 08 June at 1800 London time / 1300 US Eastern Time 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 09 June, but at a later date. ***

Observations from the Hubble Space Telescope provide insights into the evolution of a nearby supernova. The findings, reported in Nature this week, reveal that X-rays are the energy source responsible for a second wave of brightness.

After the initial explosion of a massive star, the fading light emitted from the ejected material of a supernova is due to the decay of radioactive elements produced in the explosion. The transition to the phase where the energy comes from interactions between the ejecta and the surrounding medium has not been observed until now. Josefin Larsson and colleagues use Hubble Space Telescope imaging from the past 17 years to study this transition in the nearby supernova SN 1987A. They show that an increase in brightness since 2001 is the result of heat deposited by X-rays produced as the ejecta interacts with the surrounding material.

This transition has been difficult to observe owing to the infrequency of supernovae in the Milky Way and extragalactic supernovae being too faint and too small to study.

Josefin Larsson (Stockholm University, Sweden)
Tel: +46 8 5537 8512; E-mail: [email protected]

[4] Geoscience: Tropical glacier retreat and climate change (pp 196-199)

A study of debris from the Bolivian Telata glacier reported in Nature this week gives insights into the causes and timings of glacier retreat in the Bolivian Andes. The findings reveal that glacier fluctuations were governed by progressive warming dominated by influences from the eastern Pacific and summer insolation.

Glaciers are sensitive indicators of climate change and are important water reservoirs, but the relationships between glaciers and climate in the tropics are poorly understood. Vincent Jomelli and colleagues present a detailed history of the dynamics of the Telata glacier over the past 11,000 years based on a chronology of radionuclide-dated moraines. They show that the pattern of retreat was irregular: the rate was rapid until around 8,500 years ago, gradual until the Little Ice Age (about 200 years ago), and then dramatically increased in the twentieth century.

Climate simulations indicate that increasing insolation and warming of around 3 degrees Celsius since the early Holocene were the main driving forces for the long-term glacial retreat. Of note, the average annual temperature remained about 2 degrees Celsius cooler than modern climate until the end of the Little Ice Ace.

Vincent Jomelli (Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne-CNRS, Meudon, France)
Tel: +33 1 45 07 55 81; E-mail: [email protected]

[5] Cancer: Monocytes, signals, metastasis (AOP)
DOI: 10.1038/nature10138

***This paper will be published electronically on Nature's website on 08 June at 1800 London time / 1300 US Eastern Time 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 09 June, but at a later date. ***

Scientists have identified a source of white blood cells implicated in the metastasis of breast cancer to the lung or bone in a Nature paper this week. A signalling molecule that recruits inflammatory monocytes may represent a therapeutic target for treating metastatic breast cancer.

Inflammatory monocytes are a precursor population for macrophages, which can be found in tumours and can enhance tumour progression, invasiveness and metastasis. Jeffrey Pollard and colleagues report that inflammatory monocytes are recruited to metastases by the cytokine CCL2, and show that inhibition of CCL2 signalling prevents recruitment of inflammatory monocytes and inhibits metastasis in mice. Moreover, depletion of CCL2 also diminishes expression of the cancer-promoting protein, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF).

Jeffrey Pollard (Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York, NY, USA)
Tel: +1 718 430 2090; E-mail: [email protected]

[6] Virology: Modelling HCV (pp 208-211)

The first immunocompetent mouse model for hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is described in Nature this week.

Small animal models of human diseases provide a useful platform for studying viral pathogenesis and immunity and improving or developing new treatment strategies. Producing a rodent model for HCV is challenging because mice are resistant to HCV infection. Alexander Ploss and colleagues use adenoviruses to introduce the human factors required to encourage HCV entry into mice, making them susceptible to HCV infection. The model does not enable a complete virus replication cycle but is likely to be useful in evaluating preventative or therapeutic HCV vaccines, or HCV entry inhibitors.

Alexander Ploss (Rockefeller University, New York, NY, USA)
Tel: +1 212 327 7899; E-mail: [email protected]

[7] Quantum physics: Catching the wavefunction (pp 188-191; N&V)

Direct measurement of the quantum wavefunction is demonstrated in this week’s Nature. The method provides a simple definition of the quantum state that could be used to characterize a range of quantum systems and may contribute to fundamental quantum theory.

The wavefunction is central to quantum theory, being used to characterize quantum systems and for the calculation of measurement outcome probabilities. But the wavefunction is difficult to measure and is currently determined indirectly using a complex set of measurements. Jeff Lundeen and colleagues describe a general and direct method to measure the wavefunction and demonstrate the approach by measuring the wavefunction of a single photon.

They use a combination of weak and strong measurements; the first measurement is weak, to prevent disturbance of the system that could invalidate the second (strong) measurement. This method is transferable and could be used to measure the wavefunction of various quantum systems, such as electron spins or trapped ions.

Jeff Lundeen (National Research Council, Ottawa, Canada)
Tel: +1 613 993 8913; E-mail: [email protected]

Onur Hosten (Stanford University, CA, USA) N&V author
E-mail: [email protected]

[8] Chemistry: Probing the air–water interface (pp 192-195; N&V)

The interactions at the interface of air and water are examined this week in Nature. The observations suggest that the uppermost layer of water, which is next to the air and has properties different to those of bulk water, is very thin.

Theory has previously suggested that the air–water interface is extremely thin but direct experimental evidence has been hard to collect, owing to the difficulty of depth-profiling the liquid surface on an atomic scale. Alexander Benderskii and colleagues probe this layer by examining hydrogen bonding on the uppermost surface of water. Their observations reveal that water molecules straddling the interface form hydrogen bonds that are only slightly weaker than those in bulk water. These findings suggest a remarkably fast on-set of bulk-phase behaviour as crossing from air into the water phase.

Interactions between the water surface and the air have an important role in many processes, such as atmospheric changes and environmental chemistry.

Alexander Benderskii (University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA)
Tel: +1 213 740 3220; E-mail: [email protected]

Pavel Jungwirth (Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Prague, Czech Republic) N&V author
Tel: +420 220 314; E-mail: [email protected]

[9] Flies hot-foot it to safety (pp 204-207; N&V)

The important role of visual memory for navigation in fruitflies is demonstrated in a paper published in Nature this week. Moreover, the specific neurons required for visual place learning are identified. These findings may help to uncover fundamental principles in the organization and implementation of spatial memories in general.

Little is known about the underlying neural circuits that mediate visual place learning in insects, and the extent to which flies use vision to create spatial memories is unclear. Charles Zuker and colleagues demonstrate that Drosophila melanogaster — fruitflies used to study neural circuitry underlying complex behaviours — are capable of forming and retaining visual place memories to guide selective navigation. When placed on an unappealing warm plate the flies quickly learn the location of a cool tile by using visual cues from a light display.

Zuker’s team map the brains of the flies and find that the visual spatial learning relies on neurons in the ellipsoid body — an area of the brain distinct from those previously implicated in other types of learning and memory.

Charles Zuker (Columbia University, New York, NY, USA)
Tel: +1 212 305 7819; E-mail: [email protected]

Troy Zars (University of Missouri, Columbia, MO, USA) N&V author
Tel: +1 573 882 7247; E-mail: [email protected]

[10] Stem cells: Mending a broken heart (AOP)
DOI: 10.1038/nature10188

A small peptide can boost the formation of new heart muscle cells (cardiomyocytes) after a heart attack, according to research in mice published this week in Nature. These findings indicate that resident progenitor cells can be encouraged to differentiate into cardiomyocytes after heart damage and may have important implications for cardiovascular regenerative medicine.

One of the biggest hurdles for effective cell-based therapy in cardiovascular regenerative medicine is the identification of an appropriate source of resident cells that can give rise to functional cardiomyocytes. Thymosin b4, previously shown to encourage regrowth of blood vessels and improve heart function after injury in mice, can activate progenitor cells that could differentiate into new cardiomyocytes, Paul Riley and colleagues report. Evidence suggests that these progenitor cells might be derived from the epicardium — the outer layer of heart tissue. However, the researchers can not entirely rule out a contribution from a non-epicardial source.

The new cardiomyocytes structurally and functionally integrate with resident muscle and could potentially replace damaged muscle following a heart attack. Stimulation of a progenitor pool as shown by Riley and co-workers could prove valuable in the development of resident-cell-based therapy in human ischaemic heart disease.

Paul Riley (University College London, UK)
Tel: +44 207 905 2345; E-mail: [email protected]


[10] Role of YAP/TAZ in mechanotransduction (pp 179-183)

[11] In vivo imaging of Treg cells providing immune privilege to the haematopoietic stem-cell niche (pp 216-219)

[12] A somitic Wnt16/Notch pathway specifies haematopoietic stem cells (pp 220-224)

[13] Direct reprogramming of somatic cells is promoted by maternal transcription factor Glis1 (pp 225-229)

[14] A function for cyclin D1 in DNA repair uncovered by protein interactome analyses in human cancers (pp 230-234; N&V)


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.

Virgin Gorda: 3

Ottawa: 7, 8
Québec City: 11
Toronto: 1

Hong Kong: 3

Aix-en-Provence: 4
Gif-sur-Yvette: 3, 4
Grenoble: 4
Meudon: 4
Montpellier: 4, 14
Paris: 10
St Martin d’Hères: 4
Vandœuvre-lès-Nancy: 4

Garching: 3

Rehovot: 1
Tel Aviv: 1

Catania: 3
Modena: 10
Padua: 10
Trieste: 3

Kawaguchi: 13
Kyoto: 13
Nagoya: 11
Tokyo: 11, 13

Stockholm: 3

Basel: 2
Zurich: 2, 3

Nakhon Prathom: 14

Oxford: 1


Tucson: 3

Berkeley: 1
Goleta: 1
La Jolla: 1, 6, 9, 12
Los Angeles: 8
Pasadena: 1
San Diego: 2
San Francisco: 13
Santa Barbara: 1
Stanford: 14

Boulder: 3

Notre Dame: 3

Baltimore: 3
Greenbelt: 3

Boston: 6, 11, 14
Cambridge: 2, 3, 11
Worcester: 12

Detroit: 8

New Jersey
Brunswick: 14

New York
Albany: 4
Hempstead: 3
New York: 3, 5, 6, 9, 11

North Carolina
Research Triangle Park: 14

Radnor: 5

Austin: 3
College Station: 3

Ashburn: 9
Charlottesville: 3

Madison: 8


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]

About Nature Publishing Group (NPG):
Nature Publishing Group (NPG) is a publisher of high impact scientific and medical information in print and online. NPG publishes journals, online databases and services across the life, physical, chemical and applied sciences and clinical medicine.

Focusing on the needs of scientists, Nature (founded in 1869) is the leading weekly, international scientific journal. In addition, for this audience, NPG publishes a range of Nature research journals and Nature Reviews journals, plus a range of prestigious academic journals including society-owned publications. Online, nature.com provides over 5 million visitors per month with access to NPG publications and online databases and services, including Nature News and NatureJobs plus access to Nature Network and Nature Education’s Scitable.com.

Scientific American is at the heart of NPG’s newly-formed consumer media division, meeting the needs of the general public. Founded in 1845, Scientific American is the oldest continuously published magazine in the US and the leading authoritative publication for science in the general media. Together with scientificamerican.com and 15 local language editions around the world it reaches over 3 million consumers and scientists. Other titles include Scientific American Mind and Spektrum der Wissenschaft in Germany.

Throughout all its businesses NPG is dedicated to serving the scientific and medical communities and the wider scientifically interested general public. Part of Macmillan Publishers Limited, NPG is a global company with principal offices in London, New York and Tokyo, and offices in cities worldwide including Boston, Buenos Aires, Delhi, Hong Kong, Madrid, Barcelona, Munich, Heidelberg, Basingstoke, Melbourne, Paris, San Francisco, Seoul and Washington DC. For more information, please go to www.nature.com.

Published: 08 Jun 2011

Contact details:

The Macmillan Building, 4 Crinan Street
N1 9XW
United Kingdom

+44 20 7833 4000
News topics: 
Content type: