How bacterial ‘pirates’ plunder iron from their hosts, how butterfly wings feel the heat and more stories

Latest News from Nature 12 february 2012

This press release contains:

--- Summaries of newsworthy papers:

Nanotechnology: The iron impact of polystyrene nanoparticles

Nature: How bacterial ‘pirates’ plunder iron from their hosts

Immunology: HIV-1 restriction

Climate Change: A cultural exploration of climate change

Cell Biology: microRNA transport between cells protects from atherosclerosis

And finally…Photonics: Butterfly wings feel the heat

--- 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.

PICTURES: To obtain artwork from any of the journals, you must first obtain 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] Nanotechnology: The iron impact of polystyrene nanoparticles

DOI: 10.1038/nano.2012.3

Chronic and acute oral exposure to polystyrene nanoparticles can affect iron uptake and transport in a model of human intestinal lining cells cultured in the laboratory and in a live chicken intestinal model reports a paper this week in Nature Nanotechnology. The models created in this study may provide a low-cost and high-throughput screening tool for future nanoparticle toxicity research.

Because of their unique physical and chemical properties, engineered nanoparticles are used in a variety of applications, including the food industry and for drug delivery. In addition, it has been estimated that the average person in a developed country consumes over a trillion man-made fine to ultrafine particles every day. Some features of nanoparticles may, however, lead to harmful interactions with cellular material, but no studies have yet addressed the chronic effects of nanoparticle exposure on the normal function of the intestinal lining, known as the epithelium.

Michael Shuler and colleagues show in cell culture and a chicken model – whose gastrointestinal tract has features similar to those of the human tract – that acute oral exposure to polystyrene nanoparticles can decrease iron uptake and transportation. They also show that chronic exposure can cause remodelling of the intestinal villi, and this increases the surface area available for iron absorption.

The authors suggest that the polystyrene particles used in these experiments are generally considered to be non-toxic, but their interaction with a normal physiological process suggests a potential mechanism for a chronic, harmful, more subtle response. They note, however, that many of the consequences of oral nanoparticle exposure remain unknown, and therefore more studies are needed, especially looking at the effects of nanoparticles on nutrient absorption.

Author contact:

Michael Shuler (Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA)
Tel: +1 607 255 7577; E-mail: [email protected]


[2] Nature: How bacterial ‘pirates’ plunder iron from their hosts

DOI: 10.1038/nature10823

Information that may assist the design of drugs and vaccines against human pathogens that cause bacterial meningitis, septicaemia and gonorrhoea is reported in Nature this week. Neisseria are bacteria that require iron for survival, which they obtain from their hosts. The latest research uses structural analysis to uncover the iron-scavenging mechanism.

Neisseria have an outer membrane protein, TbpA, and a receptor protein, TbpB, that together can directly extract iron from a human plasma protein called transferrin. TbpA and TbpB are potentially important vaccine and therapeutic targets, as inhibiting iron uptake is detrimental to Neisseria survival. Susan Buchanan and colleagues elucidate how this machinery enables iron piracy by solving the structures of these proteins when bound to human transferrin. They show that this system allows efficient extraction of iron despite the extremely high affinity of human transferrin bound iron under normal physiological conditions.

Currently there are no vaccines to protect against gonococcal infections. Although vaccines exist for bacterial meningitis, they have limitations and are ineffective against some Neisseria strains. Thus, the authors note that there is an urgent need to develop more effective countermeasures against these pathogens.

Author contact:

Susan Buchanan (NIDDK, NIH, Bethesda, MD, USA)
Tel: +1 301 594 9222; E-mail: [email protected]


[3] Immunology: HIV-1 restriction
DOI: 10.1038/ni.2236

SAMHD1, a protein known to limit human immunodeficiency virus-1 (HIV-1) infection of certain immune cells does so by degrading the basic constituents of DNA, known as dNTPs, in the host cells, according to a report published in Nature Immunology.

Infection of some hematopoietic immune cells such as dendritic cells and macrophages by HIV-1 is inefficient due to expression of a protein called SAMHD1. Margottin-Goguet, Landau, Kim and colleagues show that SAMHD1 restricts HIV-1 replication by limiting the amount of intracellular dNTPs in macrophages. dNTPs are the building blocks of DNA and HIV-1 requires host dNTPs as an intermediate step in its replication cycle. Nucleotide starvation could be a general mechanism to protect cells from HIV-1 and other viruses that replicate through a DNA intermediate.

Author contacts:

Florence Margottin-Goguet (INSERM, Paris, France)
Tel: +33 1 40 51 66 19; E-mail: [email protected]

Nathaniel Landau (New York University School Of Medicine, NY, USA)
Tel: +1 212 263 9197; E-mail: [email protected]

Baek Kim (University of Rochester, NY, USA)
Tel: +1 585 275 6916; E-mail: [email protected]


Climate Change: A cultural exploration of climate change

DOI: 10.1038/nclimate1420

A pioneering project that was set up to bridge a perceived communication gap between the science of climate change and the deep societal changes required to avoid dangerous impacts is explained by its creator in Nature Climate Change this week.

In 2001, British artist David Buckland founded the Cape Farewell project, which he feels attempts to address one of the most pressing social issues of our time. Cape Farewell's expeditions to the Arctic, Andes and Amazon, in which artists, writers and film-makers travel aboard a research vessel with scientists, have produced exhibitions, books and films that deliver a cultural response to climate change.

In a News Feature published this week Buckland explains his approach. The article is accompanied by original photographs and an exclusive poem by the British poet Nick Drake.

Author contact:

David Buckland (The Science Museum's Dana Centre, London, UK)
Tel: +44 207 620 6235; E-mail: [email protected]


[4] Cell Biology: microRNA transport between cells protects from atherosclerosis

DOI: 10.1038/ncb2441

Two types of blood vessel cells communicate through small non-coding RNAs to reduce atherosclerosis, reports a paper published in Nature Cell Biology this week. As atherosclerosis is associated with serious health problems, including heart attacks and strokes, these findings could be important in the development of therapeutic strategies.

Certain regions of the arteries are protected from atherosclerosis by differences in local blood flow. One such atheroprotective mechanism is mediated by the activity of the transcription factor KLF2, which is found in cells of the blood vessel endothelium—the thin layer of cells that lines the interior surface of blood vessels.

Stefanie Dimmeler and colleagues find that KLF2 upregulates expression of the microRNAs miR-143/145 in endothelial cells. They show that when smooth muscle cells, which line the walls of blood vessels, and endothelial cells are cultured together, endothelial cells release small membrane-bound particles, called 'microvesicles', containing miR-143/145 that are subsequently taken up by smooth muscle cells. Microvesicle-mediated transport between cells allows endothelial-cell-derived miR-143/145 to regulate the expression of genes in smooth muscle cells. The authors use a mouse model of atherosclerosis to further demonstrate that injection of miR-143/145-containing microvesicles reduces atherosclerotic lesion formation.

These findings suggest that the transport of microRNAs between endothelial and smooth muscle cells could be exploited therapeutically to battle atherosclerosis.

Author contact:

Stefanie Dimmeler (University of Frankfurt, Germany)
Tel: +69 6301 5158; E-mail: [email protected]


[5] And finally…Photonics: Butterfly wings feel the heat

DOI: 10.1038/nphoton.2011.355

A sensitive infrared detector based on the iridescent wing scales of the Morpho butterfly is reported in Nature Photonics this week. The work could help guide future designs of thermal imaging sensors.

Infrared thermography is used in industrial, military and medical applications to visualize the heat emitted from an object. Radislav Potyrailo and colleagues report a bio-inspired sensor that is faster, smaller and more sensitive than today’s infrared detectors, which often require thermal management and rely on complex microfabrication techniques. In their detector design, the team combined the relatively recent technology of carbon nanotubes with the five-million-year-old iridescent features of the Morpho butterfly wing. They found that when infrared radiation hit the wing, the air-filled photonic nanostructures heat up and expand, which causes the wing colour to change. By doping the scales with carbon nanotubes they show that the amount of radiation that the wings can absorb increases, therefore improving the device’s sensitivity.

Author contact:

Radislav A. Potyrailo (General Electric Company, New York, NY, USA)
Tel: +1 518 387 7370; E-mail: [email protected]


[8] The same pocket inmenin binds both MLL and JUND but has opposite effects on transcription
DOI: 10.1038/nature10806

[9] Control of ground-state pluripotency by allelic regulation of Nanog
DOI: 10.1038/nature10807



[10] Comprehensive analysis of RNA-Seq data reveals extensive RNA editing in a human transcriptome
DOI: 10.1038/nbt.2122



[11] Reduced cell proliferation by IKK2 depletion in a mouse lung-cancer model
DOI: 10.1038/ncb2428

[12] Chromosome- and spindle-pole-derived signals generate an intrinsic code for spindle position and orientation
DOI: 10.1038/ncb2440



[13] Using transcriptome sequencing to identify mechanisms of drug action and resistance
DOI: 10.1038/nchembio.779

[14] Halofuginone and other febrifugine derivatives inhibit prolyl-tRNA synthetase
DOI: 10.1038/nchembio.790

[15] Thymine DNA glycosylase specifically recognizes 5-carboxylcytosine-modified DNA
DOI: 10.1038/nchembio.914



[16] Selection of supramolecular chirality by application of rotational and magnetic forces
DOI: 10.1038/nchem.1264

[17] Diamidocarbenes as versatile and reversible [2+1] cycloaddition reagents
DOI: 10.1038/nchem.1267



[18] Changes in marine dinoflagellate and diatom abundance under climate change
DOI: 10.1038/nclimate1388

[19] Global trends in tropical cyclone risk
DOI: 10.1038/nclimate1410



[20] Mutations in SLC20A2 link familial idiopathic basal ganglia calcification with phosphate homeostasis
DOI: 10.1038/ng.1077

[21] Common variants near TARDBP and EGR2 are associated with susceptibility to Ewing sarcoma
DOI: 10.1038/ng.1085



[22] Body-barrier surveillance by epidermal gamma-delta TCRs
DOI: 10.1038/ni.2240



[23] 7Li MRI of Li batteries reveals location of microstructural lithium
DOI: 10.1038/nmat3246

[24] Nanoscale strain-induced pair suppression as a vortex-pinning mechanism in high-temperature superconductors
DOI: 10.1038/nmat3247

[25] Mesoporous organohydrogels from thermogelling photocrosslinkable nanoemulsions
DOI: 10.1038/nmat3248



[26] KIF5B-RET fusions in lung adenocarcinoma
DOI: 10.1038/nm.2644

[27] RET, ROS1 and ALK fusions in lung cancer
DOI: 10.1038/nm.2658

[28] Identification of new ALK and RET gene fusions from colorectal and lung cancer biopsies
DOI: 10.1038/nm.2673



[29] Spatiotemporal control of gene expression by a light-switchable transgene system
DOI: 10.1038/nmeth.1892

[30] Comparative analysis of algorithms for integration of copy number and expression data
DOI: 10.1038/nmeth.1893

[31] Combined RNAi and localization for functionally dissecting long non-coding RNAs
DOI: 10.1038/nmeth.1894



[32] Intracellular recording of action potentials by nanopillar electroporation



[33] Disentangling the functional consequences of the connectivity between optic-flow processing neurons
DOI: 10.1038/nn.3044

[34] The integration of motion and disparity cues to depth in dorsal visual cortex
DOI: 10.1038/nn.3046

[35] Structural correlates of heterogeneous in vivo activity of midbrain dopaminergic neurons
DOI: 10.1038/nn.3048

[36] A cortical motor nucleus drives the basal ganglia-recipient thalamus in singing birds
DOI: 10.1038/nn.3047


[37] Spectral caustics in attosecond science
DOI: 10.1038/nphoton.2011.353

[38] Observation of eight-photon entanglement
DOI: 10.1038/nphoton.2011.354

[39] Tandem polymer solar cells featuring a spectrally matched low-bandgap polymer
DOI: 10.1038/nphoton.2011.356


Nature PHYSICS (

[40] Nonlinear detection of spin currents in graphene with non-magnetic electrodes
DOI: 10.1038/nphys2219

[41] New chiral phases of superfluid 3He stabilized by anisotropic silica aerogel
DOI: 10.1038/nphys2220



[42] A novel actin binding site of myosin required for effective muscle contraction
DOI: 10.1038/nsmb.2216

[43] DNAPKcs-dependent arrest of RNA polymerase II transcription in the presence of DNA breaks
DOI: 10.1038/nsmb.2224

[44] Anticheckpoint pathways at telomeres in yeast
DOI: 10.1038/nsmb.2225

[45] An alternative mode of microRNA target recognition
DOI: 10.1038/nsmb.2230

[46] Crystal structure of an asymmetric trimer of a bacterial glutamate transporter homolog
DOI: 10.1038/nsmb.2233



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: 21


Leuven: 24


Recife: 20


Santiago: 35

Beijing: 20
Shanghai: 29, 38
Shenzhen: 10
Wuhan: 20


Copenhagen: 10


Helsinki: 30


Caen: 24
Grenoble: 19
Illkirch: 43
Lyon: 21
Marseille: 3
Montpellier: 3, 44
Nantes: 21
Paris: 3, 21, 33
Strasbourg: 9
Villejuif: 21


Bad Nauheim: 4
Berlin: 31
Dresden: 31
Erlangen: 3
Frankfurt: 4
Freiburg: 21
Martinsried: 33
Munich: 33


Budapest: 42


Jerusalem: 28
Petach: 28
Rehovot: 37
Tel-Aviv: 24

Bologna: 21

Messina: 16


Kanagawa: 27
Nagoya: 27, 28
Tochigi: 27
Tokyo: 26, 27, 34, 39


Kyongi-do: 14
Seoul: 3, 14, 28, 45


Amsterdam: 4
Nijmegen: 16


Lisbon: 33


Barcelona: 24
Bellaterra: 24
Madrid: 21
Majahonda: 21
Pamplona: 21
Santiago de Compostela: 20
Valencia: 20
Zaragoza: 24


Geneva: 19, 35, 44
Lausanne: 19
Versoix: 19
Zurich: 20


Taoyuan: 10


Birmingham: 34
Cambridge: 23, 36, 42
London: 4, 21
Middlesex: 2
Oxford: 35
Plymouth: 18
Salisbury: 2
Swansea: 18


La Jolla: 11, 14
Los Angeles: 39
Menlo Park: 32
Santa Barbara: 34
Stanford: 32
Golden: 39
Argonne: 2
Evanston: 41
Urbana: 2, 11
Bethesda: 2, 21, 26
Boston: 14, 28
Cambridge: 12, 14, 25, 28
Ann Arbor: 8
New York
Albany: 5, 28
Binghamton: 1
Bronx: 2
Cold Spring Harbor: 45
Ithaca: 1
New York: 3, 13, 23, 45, 46
Niskayuna: 5
Rochester: 3
Stony Brook: 23
North Carolina
Asheville: 19
Toledo: 14
Philadelphia: 8
Oak Ridge: 23
Austin: 17
Dallas: 43
Houston: 22
Burlington: 2



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

Neda Afsarmanesh (Nature New York)
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For media inquiries relating to editorial content/policy for the Nature Research Journals, please contact the journals individually:

Nature Biotechnology (New York)
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Nature Cell Biology (London)
Sowmya Swaminathan
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Nature Chemical Biology (Boston)
Elissa Bolt
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)
Rory Howlett
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: 12 Feb 2012

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