Why we need fetal tissue research ()

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News at a glance ()

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Shake-up threatens novel U.S. ecology facility ()

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Did neurons arise from an early secretory cell? ()

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In Congo, fighting a virus and a groundswell of fake news ()

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Dueling spacecraft look deep into Saturn and Jupiter ()

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Pain spreads from shutdown ()

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Flotilla launches large survey of Antarctic krill ()

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The bones of Bears Ears ()

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The brain's traffic problems ()

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When Earth got pummeled ()

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Iron hits the mark ()

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Microbial guardians of skin health ()

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The cerebellum gets social ()

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Adaptations of an ancient modular machine ()

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Gene therapy for pathologic gene expression ()

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B cells, CMV, and stem cell transplant ()

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Oversight of direct-to-consumer neurotechnologies ()

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The revealing history of a revered waterway ()

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Nuclear power and promise ()

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The value of small mangrove patches ()

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Brazil's endangered postgraduate system ()

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Airborne in the era of climate change ()

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Ancestral history matters ()

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Impact rates on Earth and the Moon ()

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Plugging into the pump ()

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A redox road to recovery ()

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The emotional dimension of pain ()

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Assembly of the ciliary microtubule doublet ()

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Serotherapy treats a transplant hurdle ()

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When cell adhesion promotes fibrosis ()

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Neoantigen reactivity ()

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Synthetic innovation in drug development ()

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Combining expansion and the lattice light sheet ()

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CRISPRa corrects haploinsufficient obesity ()

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Predicting catalyst selectivity ()

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The cerebellum and reward-driven behavior ()

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Orange-glowing iron at room temperature ()

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Journey to jorumycin ()

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Brief get-togethers between NaK and K ()

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Reversing chromatin dynamics for development ()

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Dual roles of skin microbiota ()

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An anti-ammonia probiotic ()

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Standardizing science for conservation ()

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Pathogens at the limits ()

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A lanthanide secret handshake ()

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Understanding preeclampsia ()

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Dynamics of repulsive Fermi gases ()

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Precision CRISPR editing ()

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Targeting CH2 sites ()

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Addressing a hairy problem ()

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Luminescence and reactivity of a charge-transfer excited iron complex with nanosecond lifetime ()
Iron’s abundance and rich coordination chemistry are potentially appealing features for photochemical applications. However, the photoexcitable charge-transfer states of most iron complexes are limited by picosecond or subpicosecond deactivation through low-lying metal-centered states, resulting in inefficient electron-transfer reactivity and complete lack of photoluminescence. In this study, we show that octahedral coordination of iron(III) by two mono-anionic facial tris-carbene ligands can markedly suppress such deactivation. The resulting complex [Fe(phtmeimb)2]+, where phtmeimb is {phenyl[tris(3-methylimidazol-1-ylidene)]borate}–, exhibits strong, visible, room temperature photoluminescence with a 2.0-nanosecond lifetime and 2% quantum yield via spin-allowed transition from a doublet ligand-to-metal charge-transfer (2LMCT) state to the doublet ground state. Reductive and oxidative electron-transfer reactions were observed for the 2LMCT state of [Fe(phtmeimb)2]+ in bimolecular quenching studies with methylviologen and diphenylamine.
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Earth and Moon impact flux increased at the end of the Paleozoic ()
The terrestrial impact crater record is commonly assumed to be biased, with erosion thought to eliminate older craters, even on stable terrains. Given that the same projectile population strikes Earth and the Moon, terrestrial selection effects can be quantified by using a method to date lunar craters with diameters greater than 10 kilometers and younger than 1 billion years. We found that the impact rate increased by a factor of 2.6 about 290 million years ago. The terrestrial crater record shows similar results, suggesting that the deficit of large terrestrial craters between 300 million and 650 million years ago relative to more recent times stems from a lower impact flux, not preservation bias. The almost complete absence of terrestrial craters older than 650 million years may indicate a massive global-scale erosion event near that time.
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Structural adaptations of photosynthetic complex I enable ferredoxin-dependent electron transfer ()
Photosynthetic complex I enables cyclic electron flow around photosystem I, a regulatory mechanism for photosynthetic energy conversion. We report a 3.3-angstrom-resolution cryo–electron microscopy structure of photosynthetic complex I from the cyanobacterium Thermosynechococcus elongatus. The model reveals structural adaptations that facilitate binding and electron transfer from the photosynthetic electron carrier ferredoxin. By mimicking cyclic electron flow with isolated components in vitro, we demonstrate that ferredoxin directly mediates electron transfer between photosystem I and complex I, instead of using intermediates such as NADPH (the reduced form of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate). A large rate constant for association of ferredoxin to complex I indicates efficient recognition, with the protein subunit NdhS being the key component in this process.
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Observation of magnetically tunable Feshbach resonances in ultracold 23Na40K + 40K collisions ()
Resonances in ultracold collisions involving heavy molecules are difficult to simulate theoretically and have proven challenging to detect. Here we report the observation of magnetically tunable Feshbach resonances in ultracold collisions between potassium-40 (40K) atoms and sodium-23–potassium-40 (23Na40K) molecules in the rovibrational ground state. We prepare the atoms and molecules in various hyperfine levels of their ground states and observe the loss of molecules as a function of the magnetic field. The atom-molecule Feshbach resonances are identified by observing an enhancement of the loss. We have observed 11 resonances in the magnetic field range of 43 to 120 gauss. The observed atom-molecule Feshbach resonances at ultralow temperatures probe the three-body potential energy surface with exceptional resolution and will help to improve understanding of ultracold collisions.
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A Eu3+-Eu2+ ion redox shuttle imparts operational durability to Pb-I perovskite solar cells ()
The components with soft nature in the metal halide perovskite absorber usually generate lead (Pb)0 and iodine (I)0 defects during device fabrication and operation. These defects serve as not only recombination centers to deteriorate device efficiency but also degradation initiators to hamper device lifetimes. We show that the europium ion pair Eu3+-Eu2+ acts as the "redox shuttle" that selectively oxidized Pb0 and reduced I0 defects simultaneously in a cyclical transition. The resultant device achieves a power conversion efficiency (PCE) of 21.52% (certified 20.52%) with substantially improved long-term durability. The devices retained 92% and 89% of the peak PCE under 1-sun continuous illumination or heating at 85°C for 1500 hours and 91% of the original stable PCE after maximum power point tracking for 500 hours, respectively.
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Concise total syntheses of (-)-jorunnamycin A and (-)-jorumycin enabled by asymmetric catalysis ()
The bis-tetrahydroisoquinoline (bis-THIQ) natural products have been studied intensively over the past four decades for their exceptionally potent anticancer activity, in addition to strong Gram-positive and Gram-negative antibiotic character. Synthetic strategies toward these complex polycyclic compounds have relied heavily on electrophilic aromatic chemistry, such as the Pictet–Spengler reaction, that mimics their biosynthetic pathways. Herein, we report an approach to two bis-THIQ natural products, jorunnamycin A and jorumycin, that instead harnesses the power of modern transition-metal catalysis for the three major bond-forming events and proceeds with high efficiency (15 and 16 steps, respectively). By breaking from biomimicry, this strategy allows for the preparation of a more diverse set of nonnatural analogs.
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An amygdalar neural ensemble that encodes the unpleasantness of pain ()
Pain is an unpleasant experience. How the brain’s affective neural circuits attribute this aversive quality to nociceptive information remains unknown. By means of time-lapse in vivo calcium imaging and neural activity manipulation in freely behaving mice encountering noxious stimuli, we identified a distinct neural ensemble in the basolateral amygdala that encodes the negative affective valence of pain. Silencing this nociceptive ensemble alleviated pain affective-motivational behaviors without altering the detection of noxious stimuli, withdrawal reflexes, anxiety, or reward. Following peripheral nerve injury, innocuous stimuli activated this nociceptive ensemble to drive dysfunctional perceptual changes associated with neuropathic pain, including pain aversion to light touch (allodynia). These results identify the amygdalar representations of noxious stimuli that are functionally required for the negative affective qualities of acute and chronic pain perception.
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Agriculturally dominated landscapes reduce bee phylogenetic diversity and pollination services ()
Land-use change threatens global biodiversity and may reshape the tree of life by favoring some lineages over others. Whether phylogenetic diversity loss compromises ecosystem service delivery remains unknown. We address this knowledge gap using extensive genomic, community, and crop datasets to examine relationships among land use, pollinator phylogenetic structure, and crop production. Pollinator communities in highly agricultural landscapes contain 230 million fewer years of evolutionary history; this loss was strongly associated with reduced crop yield and quality. Our study links landscape–mediated changes in the phylogenetic structure of natural communities to the disruption of ecosystem services. Measuring conservation success by species counts alone may fail to protect ecosystem functions and the full diversity of life from which they are derived.
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Flagellar microtubule doublet assembly in vitro reveals a regulatory role of tubulin C-terminal tails ()
Microtubule doublets (MTDs), consisting of an incomplete B-microtubule at the surface of a complete A-microtubule, provide a structural scaffold mediating intraflagellar transport and ciliary beating. Despite the fundamental role of MTDs, the molecular mechanism governing their formation is unknown. We used a cell-free assay to demonstrate a crucial inhibitory role of the carboxyl-terminal (C-terminal) tail of tubulin in MTD assembly. Removal of the C-terminal tail of an assembled A-microtubule allowed for the nucleation of a B-microtubule on its surface. C-terminal tails of only one A-microtubule protofilament inhibited this side-to-surface tubulin interaction, which would be overcome in vivo with binding protein partners. The dynamics of B-microtubule nucleation and its distinctive isotropic elongation was elucidated by using live imaging. Thus, inherent interaction properties of tubulin provide a structural basis driving flagellar MTD assembly.
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Strain-specific antibody therapy prevents cytomegalovirus reactivation after transplantation ()
Cytomegalovirus infection is a frequent and life-threatening complication that significantly limits positive transplantation outcomes. We developed preclinical mouse models of cytomegalovirus reactivation after transplantation and found that humoral immunity is essential for preventing viral recrudescence. Preexisting antiviral antibodies decreased after transplant in the presence of graft-versus-host disease and were not replaced, owing to poor reconstitution of donor B cells and elimination of recipient plasma cells. Viral reactivation was prevented by the transfer of immune serum, without a need to identify and target specific antigenic determinants. Notably, serotherapy afforded complete protection, provided that the serum was matched to the infecting viral strain. Thus, we define the mechanisms for cytomegalovirus reactivation after transplantation and identify a readily translatable strategy of exceptional potency, which avoids the constraints of cellular therapies.
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H3K9me3-heterochromatin loss at protein-coding genes enables developmental lineage specification ()
Gene silencing by chromatin compaction is integral to establishing and maintaining cell fates. Trimethylated histone 3 lysine 9 (H3K9me3)–marked heterochromatin is reduced in embryonic stem cells compared to differentiated cells. However, the establishment and dynamics of closed regions of chromatin at protein-coding genes, in embryologic development, remain elusive. We developed an antibody-independent method to isolate and map compacted heterochromatin from low–cell number samples. We discovered high levels of compacted heterochromatin, H3K9me3-decorated, at protein-coding genes in early, uncommitted cells at the germ-layer stage, undergoing profound rearrangements and reduction upon differentiation, concomitant with cell type–specific gene expression. Perturbation of the three H3K9me3-related methyltransferases revealed a pivotal role for H3K9me3 heterochromatin during lineage commitment at the onset of organogenesis and for lineage fidelity maintenance.
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New Products ()

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AAAS 2019 Annual Meeting Program ()

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Lessons from a postdoc gone wrong ()

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Cerebellar modulation of the reward circuitry and social behavior ()
The cerebellum has been implicated in a number of nonmotor mental disorders such as autism spectrum disorder, schizophrenia, and addiction. However, its contribution to these disorders is not well understood. In mice, we found that the cerebellum sends direct excitatory projections to the ventral tegmental area (VTA), one of the brain regions that processes and encodes reward. Optogenetic activation of the cerebello-VTA projections was rewarding and, in a three-chamber social task, these projections were more active when the animal explored the social chamber. Intriguingly, activity in the cerebello-VTA pathway was required for the mice to show social preference in this task. Our data delineate a major, previously unappreciated role for the cerebellum in controlling the reward circuitry and social behavior.
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CRISPR-mediated activation of a promoter or enhancer rescues obesity caused by haploinsufficiency ()
A wide range of human diseases result from haploinsufficiency, where the function of one of the two gene copies is lost. Here, we targeted the remaining functional copy of a haploinsufficient gene using CRISPR-mediated activation (CRISPRa) in Sim1 and Mc4r heterozygous mouse models to rescue their obesity phenotype. Transgenic-based CRISPRa targeting of the Sim1 promoter or its distant hypothalamic enhancer up-regulated its expression from the endogenous functional allele in a tissue-specific manner, rescuing the obesity phenotype in Sim1 heterozygous mice. To evaluate the therapeutic potential of CRISPRa, we injected CRISPRa-recombinant adeno-associated virus into the hypothalamus, which led to reversal of the obesity phenotype in Sim1 and Mc4r haploinsufficient mice. Our results suggest that endogenous gene up-regulation could be a potential strategy to treat altered gene dosage diseases.
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The importance of synthetic chemistry in the pharmaceutical industry ()
Innovations in synthetic chemistry have enabled the discovery of many breakthrough therapies that have improved human health over the past century. In the face of increasing challenges in the pharmaceutical sector, continued innovation in chemistry is required to drive the discovery of the next wave of medicines. Novel synthetic methods not only unlock access to previously unattainable chemical matter, but also inspire new concepts as to how we design and build chemical matter. We identify some of the most important recent advances in synthetic chemistry as well as opportunities at the interface with partner disciplines that are poised to transform the practice of drug discovery and development.
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Prediction of higher-selectivity catalysts by computer-driven workflow and machine learning ()
Catalyst design in asymmetric reaction development has traditionally been driven by empiricism, wherein experimentalists attempt to qualitatively recognize structural patterns to improve selectivity. Machine learning algorithms and chemoinformatics can potentially accelerate this process by recognizing otherwise inscrutable patterns in large datasets. Herein we report a computationally guided workflow for chiral catalyst selection using chemoinformatics at every stage of development. Robust molecular descriptors that are agnostic to the catalyst scaffold allow for selection of a universal training set on the basis of steric and electronic properties. This set can be used to train machine learning methods to make highly accurate predictive models over a broad range of selectivity space. Using support vector machines and deep feed-forward neural networks, we demonstrate accurate predictive modeling in the chiral phosphoric acid–catalyzed thiol addition to N-acylimines.
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Cortical column and whole-brain imaging with molecular contrast and nanoscale resolution ()
Optical and electron microscopy have made tremendous inroads toward understanding the complexity of the brain. However, optical microscopy offers insufficient resolution to reveal subcellular details, and electron microscopy lacks the throughput and molecular contrast to visualize specific molecular constituents over millimeter-scale or larger dimensions. We combined expansion microscopy and lattice light-sheet microscopy to image the nanoscale spatial relationships between proteins across the thickness of the mouse cortex or the entire Drosophila brain. These included synaptic proteins at dendritic spines, myelination along axons, and presynaptic densities at dopaminergic neurons in every fly brain region. The technology should enable statistically rich, large-scale studies of neural development, sexual dimorphism, degree of stereotypy, and structural correlations to behavior or neural activity, all with molecular contrast.
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