New drug candidates for treating radiation poisoning and more of the latest news from Nature

Two new drug candidates for treating radiation poisoning are uncovered in a study this week. Hartmut Geiger and colleagues use a genetic screen to identify new regulators of radiation sensitivity in mice and discover that a pathway that controls blood clotting and inflammation unexpectedly provides protection against radiation damage.

This press release contains:

· Summaries of newsworthy papers:

Climate Change: Sea-level rise hotspot

Photonics: Twisted beams carry terabits

Medicine: New drug candidates for treating radiation poisoning

Immunology: Immunological function for hair follicles

And finally…Neuroscience: Sleep on it

· Geographical listing of authors

[1] Climate Change: Sea-level rise hotspot

DOI: 10.1038/nclimate1597

Sea levels are rising faster on the Atlantic Coast of North America than elsewhere around the world, and this rise appears to be accelerating reports a paper published online in Nature Climate Change this week. The work suggests that this will increase the vulnerability of coastal cities to flooding and damage coastal wetland habitats, especially under storm-surge conditions.

Climate warming causes sea-level rise by melting of land-based ice and also through the thermal expansion of water. However, sea-level rise is expected to vary from place to place owing to various factors such as ocean currents and differences in seawater temperature and saltiness, as well as the Earth’s rotation and shape.

The sea-level rise ‘hotspot’ identified by Asbury Sallenger and colleagues involves 1,000 kilometres of the east coast of North America north of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. It is located in one of the world’s most densely populated coastal areas, encompassing Boston, Providence, New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Norfolk-Virginia Beach. Based on an analysis of tide-gauge records, the researchers found that between 1950–1979 and 1980–2009 the rates of sea-level rise in this northeast hotspot were around three to four times higher than the global average, and consistent with the ‘fingerprint’ of sea-level rise expected from computer simulations.

The discovery of this regional hotspot of sea-level rise is likely to help predict the submergence of saltwater marshes, and help plan adaptation measures for coastal cities and communities in the face of encroaching seas. The findings will also help scientists develop and refine models of sea-level rise to reflect the real world better.

Author contact:

Asbury Sallenger, Jr (U.S. Geological Survey, St Petersburg, FL, USA)
Tel: +1 727 803 8747 x3015 or +1 727 492 6006; E-mail: [email protected]


[2] Photonics: Twisted beams carry terabits

DOI: 10.1038/nphoton.2012.138

The potential for light waves to carry terabits of data every second through free space is reported in Nature Photonics this week. This work could aid the development of high-efficiency, high-bandwidth satellite communication links.

The technique involves carrying data on a ‘twisted’ light beam, whose ‘front’ is helical in shape. Jiang Wang, Alan Willner, and colleagues show that combining beams with differing amounts of twist — formally known as orbital angular momentum — allows up to 2.56 terabits of data to be transmitted over free space every second. They also demonstrate that it is possible to separate and swap data between the twisted beams.

Researchers in optical communications often boost data transfer speeds by combining light beams of different colours or polarizations. This new technique demonstrates that orbital angular momentum can also be used in this fashion, thus providing optical scientists with a new tool for further improving the speed and functionality of their systems.

Author contacts:

Jian Wang (Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Hubei, China)
Tel: +86 135 172 29511; E-mail: [email protected]

Alan Willner (University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA)
Tel: +1 213 272 6942; E-mail: [email protected]

Juan Torres (Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain) N&V author
Tel: +34 935 534 057; E-mail: [email protected]


[3] Medicine: New drug candidates for treating radiation poisoning

DOI: 10.1038/nm.2813

Two new drug candidates for treating radiation poisoning are uncovered in a study published online this week in Nature Medicine.

Hartmut Geiger and colleagues use a genetic screen to identify new regulators of radiation sensitivity in mice and discover that a pathway that controls blood clotting and inflammation unexpectedly provides protection against radiation damage. In this pathway, the protein thrombomodulin helps generate activated protein C, which has both anticoagulant and anti-inflammatory activities. The team found that intravenous infusion of recombinant forms of either thrombomodulin or activated protein C protected mice from death after total body radiation.

Both thrombomodulin and activated protein C have previously been used in humans for other conditions, suggesting they might be repurposed for treating radiation poisoning.

Author contact:

Hartmut Geiger (Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, OH, USA)
Tel: +1 513 636 1338; E-mail: [email protected]


[4] Immunology: Immunological function for hair follicles

DOI: 10.1038/ni.2353

Hair follicles act as portals for the recruitment of Langerhans cells, immune cells of the skin and mucosa, to the epidermis, according to a study published in Nature Immunology.

Hair follicles contribute to hair growth, sebaceous secretions and act as reservoirs for various stem cells of the epidermis. Langerhans cells are distributed in a dense network in the epidermis, where they self-renew in normal conditions, but are replenished by cells in the bone marrow under stress conditions.

Nagao and colleagues show that following stress or inflammatory stimuli, distinct regions of the hair follicle secrete soluble mediators known as chemokines, which are able to direct the migration of Langerhans cell progenitors into the epidermis. Correlating with these observations, Langerhans cells are lacking in the skin of patients suffering from lichen planopilaris, an autoimmune condition that leads to destruction of the hair follicles.

Author contact:

Keisuke Nagao (Keio University School of Medicine, Tokyo, Japan)
Tel: +81 3 5363 3823; E-mail: [email protected]


[5] And finally…Neuroscience: Sleep on it

DOI: 10.1038/nn.3152

Sleep can help improve the learning of a sequence of finger movements, reports a study published online in Nature Neuroscience. These findings underline the importance of sleep for memory, and raise the possibility of selectively inducing improvements in memory during sleep.

Ken Paller and colleagues had participants learn how to play two different musical tunes with key presses. Following this, the participants took a brief nap of about 90 minutes, during which time they heard one of the musical tunes they practiced while awake, but not the other. By using EEG to record the brain's electrical activity, the team ensured that participants heard these musical 'cues' during slow wave sleep, which has previously been linked to cementing memories. They subsequently found that individuals made fewer errors in pressing the keys for the melody they heard while asleep, compared to the melody they didn't hear during their nap.

These results suggest that auditory cues during sleep can selectively strengthen complex motor skills associated with the cue, underlining the importance of sleep for improving memory.

Author contact:

Ken Paller (Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA)
Tel: +1 847 467 3370; E-mail: [email protected]



[6] Proto-genes and de novo gene birth

DOI: 10.1038/nature11184

[7] Universal species–area and endemics–area relationships at continental scales

DOI: 10.1038/nature11226

[8] Human dorsal anterior cingulate cortex neurons mediate ongoing behavioural adaptation

DOI: 10.1038/nature11239


[9] Derivation of blood-brain barrier endothelial cells from human pluripotent stem cells

DOI: 10.1038/nbt.2247

[10] Tandem fluorescent protein timers for in vivo analysis of protein dynamics

DOI: 10.1038/nbt.2281


[11] Diverse epigenetic strategies interact to control epidermal differentiation

DOI: 10.1038/ncb2520

[12] ER network formation requires a balance of the dynamin-like GTPase Sey1p and the Lunapark family member Lnp1p

DOI: 10.1038/ncb2523

[13] Tubulin nucleotide status controls Sas-4-dependent pericentriolar material recruitment

DOI: 10.1038/ncb2527

[14] c-Abl promotes osteoblast expansion by differentially regulating canonical and non-canonical BMP pathways and p16INK4a expression

DOI: 10.1038/ncb2528


[15] Metallo-b-lactamases withstand low Zn(II) conditions by tuning metal-ligand interactions

DOI: 10.1038/nchembio.1005

[16] Mechanism of N-terminal modulation of activity at the melanocortin-4 receptor GPCR

DOI: 10.1038/nchembio.1008


[17] Optically switchable transistor via energy-level phototuning in a bicomponent organic semiconductor
DOI: 10.1038/nchem.1384

[18] Crystal structures of (lambda)-[Ru(phen)2dppz]2+ with oligonucleotides containing TA/TA and AT/AT steps show two intercalation modes

DOI: 10.1038/nchem.1397


[19] Sea surface temperature variability in the southwest tropical Pacific since AD 1649

DOI: 10.1038/nclimate1583

[20] All flavours of El Niño have similar early subsurface origins

DOI: 10.1038/nclimate1600

[21] Long-term sea-level rise implied by 1.5 °C and 2 °C warming levels

DOI: 10.1038/nclimate1584

[22] Climate change and the South Asian summer monsoon

DOI: 10.1038/nclimate1495


[23] Mosaic overgrowth with fibroadipose hyperplasia is caused by somatic activating mutations in PIK3CA

DOI: 10.1038/ng.2332

[24] De novo germline and postzygotic mutations in AKT3, PIK3R2 and PIK3CA cause a spectrum of related megalencephaly syndromes

DOI: 10.1038/ng.2331

[25] De novo somatic mutations in components of the PI3K-AKT3-mTOR pathway cause hemimegalencephaly

DOI: 10.1038/ng.2329

[26] Control of grain size, shape and quality by OsSPL16 in rice

DOI: 10.1038/ng.2327


[27] The contribution of organics to atmospheric nanoparticle growth

DOI: 10.1038/ngeo1499

[28] Structure of the European upper mantle revealed by adjoint tomography

DOI: 10.1038/ngeo1501

[29] Morphology and dynamics of star dunes from numerical modelling

DOI: 10.1038/ngeo1503


[30] IL-34 is a tissue-restricted ligand of CSF1R required for the development of Langerhans cells and microglia



[31] Solitonic lattice and Yukawa forces in the rare-earth orthoferrite TbFeO3
DOI: 10.1038/nmat3358

[32] Mesoscopic architectures of porous coordination polymers fabricated by pseudomorphic replication
DOI: 10.1038/nmat3359


[33] Activation of epithelial Na+ channel triggers prostaglandin E2 release and production required for embryo implantation

DOI: 10.1038/nm.2771

[34] Matrix IGF-1 regulates bone mass by activation of mTOR in mesenchymal stem cells

DOI: 10.1038/nm.2793

[35] Fast degrading elastomer enables rapid remodeling of a cell-free synthetic graft into a neo-artery

DOI: 10.1038/nm.2821


[36] A hybrid on-chip optomechanical transducer for ultrasensitive force measurements

DOI: 10.1038/nnano.2012.97

[37] Measuring the size and charge of single nanoscale objects in solution using an electrostatic fluidic trap

DOI: 10.1038/nnano.2012.99


[38] miR-7a regulation of Pax6 controls spatial origin of forebrain dopaminergic neurons

DOI: 10.1038/nn.3142

[39] Optogenetic silencing strategies differ in their effects on inhibitory synaptic transmission

DOI: 10.1038/nn.3143

[40] Activation of lateral habenula inputs to the midbrain promotes behavioral avoidance

DOI: 10.1038/nn.3145

[41] AgRP neurons regulate development of dopamine neuronal plasticity and nonfood-associated behaviors

DOI: 10.1038/nn.3147


[42] Fluctuations and correlations in modulation instability

DOI: 10.1038/nphoton.2012.126

[43] Phase-space measurement and coherence synthesis of optical beams

DOI: 10.1038/nphoton.2012.144

[44] Universal dynamics of Kerr-frequency comb formation in microresonators

DOI: 10.1038/nphoton.2012.127

[45] Nanonewton optical force trap employing anti-reflection coated, high-refractive-index titania microspheres

DOI: 10.1038/nphoton.2012.140

[46] Experimental realization of three-dimensional indefinite cavities at the nanoscale with anomalous scaling laws

DOI: 10.1038/nphoton.2012.124

[47] A compact X-ray free-electron laser emitting in the sub-ångström region

DOI: 10.1038/nphoton.2012.141


[48] Differential phase-contrast microscopy at atomic resolution

DOI: 10.1038/nphys2337

[49] Hedgehog spin texture and Berry’s phase tuning in a magnetic topological insulator

DOI: 10.1038/nphys2351


[50] Structure of STING bound to cyclic di-GMP reveals the mechanism of cyclic dinucleotide recognition by the immune system

DOI: 10.1038/nsmb.2331

[51] Crystal structures of STING protein reveal basis for recognition of cyclic di-GMP

DOI: 10.1038/nsmb.2332

[52] The structural basis for the sensing and binding of cyclic di-GMP by STING

DOI: 10.1038/nsmb.2333



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.


Rosario: 15

Sydney: 20
Victoria: 48

Vienna: 45


Brussels: 6, 16

Liege: 6


Porto Alegre: 41

Rio de Janeiro: 31

Sao Paula: 15


Calgary: 24

Halifax: 27

Kingston: 24

Montreal: 24

Ottawa: 24

Toronto: 24

Vancouver: 11, 24


Santiago: 34

Beijing: 14, 26, 52

Chengdu: 33

Guangzhou: 26, 33

Hangzhou: 26, 33

Hubei: 3

Jinan: 52
Shanghai: 14
Shenzhen: 52
Shihezi: 34

Xi’an: 35


Praha: 7


Copenhagen: 31

Roskilde: 31


Aalto: 21

Helsinki: 27


Grenoble: 6, 18

Marseille: 38

Paris: 29

Sophia Antipolis: 38

Strasbourg: 17


Aachen: 2

Berlin: 17, 21, 31, 49

Dresden: 31, 45

Essen: 24

Garching: 36, 44

Goettingen: 24, 32

Hamburg: 24

Hannover: 2

Heidelberg: 10

Martinsried: 44

Postdam: 21

Ulm: 2


Hong Kong: 33


Bangalore: 20

Dublin: 18


Holon: 24

Ramat Gan: 3

Brescia: 30


Hyogo: 32

Kyoto: 4, 32

Nagoya: 48

Saitama: 48

Tokyo: 4, 48

Yokohama: 4


Daejeon: 25


Skopje: 23


Groningen: 31

Rotterdam: 4, 24

Utrecht: 45

Wageningen: 21


Moscow: 44


Nova Gorica: 17


Barcelona: 16

Madrid: 15


Lund: 31, 49

Stockholm: 27


Lausanne: 36, 44

Villigen 49:

Zurich: 10, 37, 49


Hsinchu: 49

Taipei: 19, 49


Cambridge: 11, 23, 30

Falmer: 24

Liverpool: 23

London: 14, 24

Manchester: 23

Oxford: 18, 39

Reading: 18, 22



Little Rock: 2


Berkeley: 46, 49

La Jolla: 1, 12, 16, 25

Los Angeles: 3, 24, 25, 42

Pasadena: 3

San Francisco: 6, 16

Santa Cruz: 16

Stanford: 17


New Haven: 7, 41


Wilmingron: 24

District of Columbia

Washington: 23


St. Petersburg: 1, 19


Honolulu: 22


Chicago: 24

Evanston: 5, 45


Bloomington: 50


Iowa City: 9


Pittsburgh: 27


Baton Rouge: 19


Scarborough: 34


Baltimore: 15, 34

Bethesda: 4, 13, 23

Chevy Chase: 25

College Park: 20


Billerica: 27

Boston: 6, 8, 13, 24, 49

Cambridge: 6, 25


Ann Arbor: 14

East Lansing: 24


St Louis: 30


Las Vegas: 2

New Jersey

Princeton: 28, 43, 49

New York

New York: 4, 14, 34

North Carolina

Chapel Hill: 40


Cincinnati: 2


Pittsburgh: 35

University Park: 48

Rhode Island

Providence: 8

South Carolina

Greenwood: 23


Austin: 19

College Station: 50

Houston: 23


Ashburn: 10


Seattle: 23, 24

Spokane: 24


Madison: 9

Milwaukee: 2, 24


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


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.

Published: 24 Jun 2012

Contact details:

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

+44 20 7833 4000
News topics: 
Content type: