MRSA infection linked to a rare virulence determinant

Latest News from Nature 22 April 2012

This press release contains:

--- Summaries of newsworthy papers:

Medicine: MRSA infection linked to a rare virulence determinant

Geoscience: Methane emissions from the Arctic Ocean

Immunology: Plan B for immunosurveillance

Climate Change: The effect of climate volatility on corn markets

--- Mention of papers to be published at the same time

--- Geographical listing of authors

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] Medicine: MRSA infection linked to a rare virulence determinant

DOI: 10.1038/nm.2692

An extremely rare genetic element has been linked to an epidemic wave of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection in China, according to a report published online this week in Nature Medicine. This element may be a promising therapeutic target in treatment.

The molecular processes that underlie epidemic waves of MRSA are poorly understood. Michael Otto and his colleagues found that a genetic element, sasX, that can move around in a genome, has a key role in MRSA colonization and pathogenesis in the body. The presence of sasX substantially enhanced nasal colonization, lung disease and abscess formation, and helped the pathogen evade the immune system. The researchers also observed the recent spread of sasX from one strain to invasive clones from other strain types, suggesting that sasX is a quickly spreading determinant of MRSA pathogenicity.

Author contact:

Michael Otto (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Bethesda, MD, USA)
Tel: +1 301 443 5209; E-mail: [email protected]


[2] Geoscience: Methane emissions from the Arctic Ocean

DOI: 10.1038/ngeo1452

The surface waters of the Arctic Ocean could represent an important source of methane, reports a study published online in Nature Geoscience this week. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, and its budget is a key source of uncertainty in the modelling of future climate change.

Eric Kort and colleagues measured atmospheric methane concentrations over the remote Arctic Ocean, up to latitudes of 82° north. They detected high concentrations of methane close to the ocean surface, indicative of an oceanic source equivalent to that seen on the Siberian shelf. High concentrations were found over openings in the sea ice and in regions of fractional sea-ice cover.

The researchers suggest that the Arctic Ocean could represent an important and climatically sensitive methane source.

Author contact:

Eric Kort (California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, USA)
Tel: +1 857 998 1883; E-mail: [email protected]


[3] Immunology: Plan B for immunosurveillance


Cells invoke a ‘plan B’ to alert immune cells when defects or viral infection causes the cells’ normal antigen processing pathways to go awry, according to a study published in Nature Immunology. These findings may have bearing in several autoimmune diseases, such as psoriasis, that are associated with this molecular system.

Peptides derived from aberrant tumor proteins, viruses, or other intracellular pathogens can be displayed by highly polymorphic molecules called MHCI – key components of the immune system. When specific immune cells recognize these complexes, it triggers them to kill the targeted cell. Hence many pathogens attempt to evade immune surveillance by inhibiting the protein processing pathway leading to peptide loading onto the MHC molecules.

Nilabh Shastri and colleagues find cells that monitor the functionality of ERAAP―an enzyme found in the endoplasmic reticulum that trims peptides loaded onto MHC binding pockets. Loss of ERAAP triggers cells to present a unique peptide, FL9, in conjunction with a non-classical MHC molecule, Qa-1. Specific T cells capable of recognizing this Qa-1–FL9 complex trigger an immune response by producing molecules that kill these Qa-1–FL9+ cells. The authors found that these Qa-1–FL9-responsive T cells are relatively abundant in mice where they can eliminate cells that become defective for ERAAP-mediated peptide processing.

Author contact:

Nilabh Shastri (University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA)
Tel: +1 510 643 9197; E-mail: [email protected]


[4] And finally…Climate Change: The effect of climate volatility on corn markets

DOI: 10.1038/nclimate1491

US corn price volatility exhibits higher sensitivity to near-term climate change than to energy policy influences or agriculture–energy market integration, reports a paper online in Nature Climate Change this week. This work represents one of the first attempts to quantify price effects of climate volatility, in particular in the context of related economic policy.

The proposed likelihood of increased occurrences of severe hot events in response to global greenhouse-gas concentrations poses a risk for field crops. It is unknown, however, whether increasing stress from climate extremes will influence yield volatility as well as yield levels. Noah Diffenbaugh and colleagues set out to explore this using projected twenty-first century changes in temperature and precipitation, and simulated responses of US corn yields to climatic conditions and economic factors. They found that overall climate change increases US corn price volatility from 43% in the historic period (1980–2000) to 177% in the future period (2020–2040). They then include in the analysis different oil price scenarios both in the presence of a biofuel mandate ― such as the US ethanol 2011–2012 ‘blend wall’ ― and without it. They found that without a biofuel mandate, price volatility response to climate change is smaller ― from 31% to 95% (high oil price) and from 32% to 109% (low oil price). However, in the presence of a biofuel mandate, the increase in volatility is much more pronounced ― from 37% to 192% (high oil price) and from 41% to 200% (low oil price).

They therefore conclude that the biofuel mandate, which has had a substantial impact on US corn price volatility during the past climates, may have an even greater impact under climate change in the near future. They note, however, that despite the substantial predicted impact on US corn price volatility, they anticipate a relatively small impact on food prices.

The authors caution that their work doesn’t consider the effects of consumer demand or corn producer activity on increased price risk ― the latter of whom may moderate their responses to price shocks. However, they conclude that their results indicate that energy markets and associated policy decisions could substantially exacerbate the impacts of climate change ― even for the relatively low levels of global warming that are likely to occur over the next decade.

Author contact:

Noah Diffenbaugh (Stanford University, CA, USA)
Tel: +1 650 725 7510; E-mail: [email protected]


Nature (

[5] Stereospecific binding of a disordered peptide segment mediates BK channel inactivation

DOI: 10.1038/nature10994

[6] Evidence of non-random mutation rates suggests an evolutionary risk management strategy

DOI: 10.1038/nature10995

[7] A PPARg–FGF1 axis is required for adaptive adipose remodelling and metabolic homeostasis

DOI: 10.1038/nature10998



[8] Performance comparison of benchtop high-throughput sequencing platforms

DOI: 10.1038/nbt.2198



[9] Reconstitution of clathrin-coated bud and vesicle formation with minimal components

DOI: 10.1038/ncb2478

[10] Kdm2b promotes induced pluripotent stem cell generation by facilitating gene activation early in reprogramming

DOI: 10.1038/ncb2483

[11] Id proteins synchronize stemness and anchorage to the niche of neural stem cells

DOI: 10.1038/ncb2490



[12] Ultrasensitive regulation of anapleurosis via allosteric activation of PEP carboxylase

DOI: 10.1038/nchembio.941

[13] YcaO domains utilize ATP to activate amide backbones during peptide cyclodehydrations

DOI: 10.1038/nchembio.944



[14] The mechanism of proton conduction in phosphoric acid

DOI: 10.1038/nchem.1329

[15] Biomimetic radical polymerization via cooperative assembly of segregating templates

DOI: 10.1038/nchem.1331

[16] Light-triggered self-construction of supramolecular organic nanowires as metallic interconnects

DOI: 10.1038/nchem.1332



[17] Emergence of the carbon-market intelligence sector

DOI: 10.1038/nclimate1492



[18] ISPD loss-of-function mutations disrupt dystroglycan O-mannosylation and cause Walker-Warburg syndrome

DOI: 10.1038/ng.2252

[19] Mutations in ISPD cause Walker-Warburg syndrome and defective glycosylation of alpha-dystroglycan

DOI: 10.1038/ng.2253



[20] Penetration of crustal melt beyond the Kunlun Fault into northern Tibet

DOI: 10.1038/ngeo1449

[21] Pulses of carbon dioxide emissions from intracrustal faults following climatic warming

DOI: 10.1038/ngeo1451

[22] Variations in earthquake rupture properties along ­the Gofar transform fault, East Pacific Rise

DOI: 10.1038/ngeo1454



[23] Constitutive MHC class I molecules negatively regulate TLR-triggered inflammatory responses via the Fps–SHP-2 pathway




[24] Effects of chemical bonding on heat transport across interfaces

DOI: 10.1038/nmat3303

[25] Exchange biasing of magnetoelectric composites

DOI: 10.1038/nmat3306



[26] Leptin action through hypothalamic nitric oxide synthase-1–expressing neurons controls energy balance

DOI: 10.1038/nm.2724

[27] Lethal inflammasome activation by a multidrug-resistant pathobiont upon antibiotic disruption of the microbiota

DOI: 10.1038/nm.2729



[28] Faster STORM using compressed sensing

DOI: 10.1038/nmeth.1978

[29] An image analysis toolbox for high-throughput C. elegans assays

DOI: 10.1038/nmeth.1984

[30] Systematic evaluation of factors influencing ChIP-seq fidelity

DOI: 10.1038/nmeth.1985



[31] The ongoing proliferation of nano journals


[32] Tunable infrared plasmonic devices using graphene/insulator stacks

DOI: 10.1038/nnano.2012.59



[33] SUMOylation and phosphorylation of GluK2 regulate kainate receptor trafficking and synaptic plasticity

DOI: 10.1038/nn.3089

[34] Rac1 is essential in cocaine-induced structural plasticity of nucleus accumbens neurons

DOI: 10.1038/nn.3094

[35] Neurogenesis requires TopBP1 to prevent catastrophic replicative DNA damage in early progenitor

DOI: 10.1038/nn.3097



[36] Wrinkles and deep folds as photonic structures in photovoltaics

DOI: 10.1038/nphoton.2012.70

[37] All-optical Compton gamma-ray source

DOI: 10.1038/nphoton.2012.82

[38] Structured illumination microscopy using unknown speckle patterns

DOI: 10.1038/nphoton.2012.83


Nature PHYSICS (

[39] Experimental delayed-choice entanglement swapping

DOI: 10.1038/nphys2294



[40] Rapid oligomer formation of human muscle acylphosphatase induced by heparan sulfate

DOI: 10.1038/nsmb.2286

[41] The cryo-EM structure of the UPF–EJC complex shows UPF1 poised toward the RNA 3′ end

DOI: 10.1038/nsmb.2287



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.


Sydney: 15, 19


Vienna: 39


Gosselies: 19
Leuven: 19


Toronto: 18, 19
Waterloo: 39


Beijing: 20, 23
Nanchang: 5
Shanghai: 1, 23, 30
Wenzhou: 1
Yunnan: 11
Zhejiang: 31


Bogota: 2


Zagreb: 19


Cairo: 19


Marseille: 38
Montpellier: 30
Palaiseau: 37
Paris: 18
Strasbourg: 16


Garching: 39
Goettingen: 41
Hannover: 9
Heidelberg: 18
Kiel: 25
Martinsried: 41
Munich: 39
Stuttgart: 14


Bangalore: 6

Dublin: 20

Galway: 20


Florence: 40
Genoa: 11, 40
Naples: 11
Rovereto: 11
Udine: 40


Okinawa: 6


Farwaniya: 19


Amsterdam: 19
Den Haag: 19
Groningen: 7
Maastricht: 19
Nijmegen: 19
Rotterdam: 19


Singapore: 30


Seoul: 36


Bizkaia: 41

Madrid: 41


Uppsala: 29


Istanbul: 19


Birmingham: 8
Bristol: 33
Cambridge: 6, 19, 21, 40
Coventry: 15
East Kilbride: 21
Edinburgh: 21
Glasgow: 21
Leeds: 19
London: 6, 8, 17, 18
Norwich: 8
Rutland: 17


Anchorage: 22
Berkeley: 3, 27, 30
Davis: 31
La Jolla: 7
Los Angeles: 18
Pasadena: 1, 30
San Diego: 7
San Francisco: 1, 28
Stanford: 4
Boulder: 2
Fort Walton Beach: 18
Atlanta: 28
Chicago: 18, 30
Urbana: 13, 24
West Lafayette: 4
Iowa City: 18
Bethesda: 1
Boston: 29, 30
Cambridge: 1, 22, 29, 34
Woods Hole: 22
Ann Arbor: 26
St Louis: 5
New Hampshire
Durham: 22
New Jersey
Princeton: 1, 12, 36
New Mexico
Los Alamos: 37
New York
New York: 11, 14, 26, 34
Yorktown Heights: 32
North Carolina
Chapel Hill: 10, 30, 34
Durham: 11
Cincinnati: 34
Philadelphia: 36
University Park: 30
Knoxville: 14
Memphis: 35
Dallas: 30
Salt Lake City: 11
Marshfield: 18



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]

Eiji Matsuda (Nature Tokyo)
Tel: +81 3 3267 8751; 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)
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)
Ray Parker
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 9331; 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, 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

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 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

Published: 22 Apr 2012

Contact details:

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

+44 20 7833 4000
News topics: 
Content type: