Health of the Hajj ()

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News at a glance ()

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New geological age comes under fire ()

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March of Dimes curtails support for researchers ()

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Hybrids spawned Lake Victoria's rich fish diversity ()

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Hope blooms for Hawaii's iconic native tree ()

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Infrared method could safely identify cells ()

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Control freaks ()

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Measuring Earth's rivers ()

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Phase changes in neurotransmission ()

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Ultrahigh thermal conductivity confirmed in boron arsenide ()

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Tighter lymphatic junctions prevent obesity ()

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The future of humans as model organisms ()

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Building an evidence base for stakeholder engagement ()

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Turn it up ()

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Lateral moves ()

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Protected land: Many factors shape success ()

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Protected land: Threat of invasive species ()

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Response ()

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Visualizing a traveling wave of cell death ()

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Peopling the Americas: Which way? ()

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Feedback reduces opioid prescriptions ()

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Expanding the role of rivers ()

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Computers tease out interaction effects ()

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Pediatric and adult kidney tumors differ ()

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Adaptive conflicts with the modern world ()

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Pancreatic perturbation ()

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Going through a phase ()

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Shrinking optical metrology ()

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The first step in Hedgehog signaling ()

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A rapid screen for complex reactants ()

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Moving the heat aside with BAs ()

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Zipping up obesity ()

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Nefarious neutrophil cytoplasts ()

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A responsive past ()

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Establishing bad host relations ()

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Malaria challenges learning ()

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High fat promotes overeating ()

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Decoding parasitic plant genomes ()

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Gravity tracking of a great earthquake ()

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Lighting the path to AI ()

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The role of electron-electron interactions in two-dimensional Dirac fermions ()
The role of electron-electron interactions in two-dimensional Dirac fermion systems remains enigmatic. Using a combination of nonperturbative numerical and analytical techniques that incorporate both the contact and long-range parts of the Coulomb interaction, we identify the two previously discussed regimes: a Gross-Neveu transition to a strongly correlated Mott insulator and a semimetallic state with a logarithmically diverging Fermi velocity accurately described by the random phase approximation. We predict that experimental realizations of Dirac fermions span this crossover and that this determines whether the Fermi velocity is increased or decreased by interactions. We explain several long-standing mysteries, including why the observed Fermi velocity in graphene is consistently about 20% larger than values obtained from ab initio calculations and why graphene on different substrates shows different behaviors.
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Experimental observation of high thermal conductivity in boron arsenide ()
Improving the thermal management of small-scale devices requires developing materials with high thermal conductivities. The semiconductor boron arsenide (BAs) is an attractive target because of ab initio calculation indicating that single crystals have an ultrahigh thermal conductivity. We synthesized BAs single crystals without detectable defects and measured a room-temperature thermal conductivity of 1300 watts per meter-kelvin. Our spectroscopy study, in conjunction with atomistic theory, reveals that the distinctive band structure of BAs allows for very long phonon mean free paths and strong high-order anharmonicity through the four-phonon process. The single-crystal BAs has better thermal conductivity than other metals and semiconductors. Our study establishes BAs as a benchmark material for thermal management applications and exemplifies the power of combining experiments and ab initio theory in new materials discovery.
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High thermal conductivity in cubic boron arsenide crystals ()
The high density of heat generated in power electronics and optoelectronic devices is a critical bottleneck in their application. New materials with high thermal conductivity are needed to effectively dissipate heat and thereby enable enhanced performance of power controls, solid-state lighting, communication, and security systems. We report the experimental discovery of high thermal conductivity at room temperature in cubic boron arsenide (BAs) grown through a modified chemical vapor transport technique. The thermal conductivity of BAs, 1000 ± 90 watts per meter per kelvin meter-kelvin, is higher than that of silicon carbide by a factor of 3 and is surpassed only by diamond and the basal-plane value of graphite. This work shows that BAs represents a class of ultrahigh–thermal conductivity materials predicted by a recent theory, and that it may constitute a useful thermal management material for high–power density electronic devices.
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Unusual high thermal conductivity in boron arsenide bulk crystals ()
Conventional theory predicts that ultrahigh lattice thermal conductivity can only occur in crystals composed of strongly bonded light elements, and that it is limited by anharmonic three-phonon processes. We report experimental evidence that departs from these long-held criteria. We measured a local room-temperature thermal conductivity exceeding 1000 watts per meter-kelvin and an average bulk value reaching 900 watts per meter-kelvin in bulk boron arsenide (BAs) crystals, where boron and arsenic are light and heavy elements, respectively. The high values are consistent with a proposal for phonon-band engineering and can only be explained by higher-order phonon processes. These findings yield insight into the physics of heat conduction in solids and show BAs to be the only known semiconductor with ultrahigh thermal conductivity.
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Global extent of rivers and streams ()
The turbulent surfaces of rivers and streams are natural hotspots of biogeochemical exchange with the atmosphere. At the global scale, the total river-atmosphere flux of trace gasses such as carbon dioxide depends on the proportion of Earth’s surface that is covered by the fluvial network, yet the total surface area of rivers and streams is poorly constrained. We used a global database of planform river hydromorphology and a statistical approach to show that global river and stream surface area at mean annual discharge is 773,000 ± 79,000 square kilometers (0.58 ± 0.06%) of Earth’s nonglaciated land surface, an area 44 ± 15% larger than previous spatial estimates. We found that rivers and streams likely play a greater role in controlling land-atmosphere fluxes than is currently represented in global carbon budgets.
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Opioid prescribing decreases after learning of a patients fatal overdose ()
Most opioid prescription deaths occur among people with common conditions for which prescribing risks outweigh benefits. General psychological insights offer an explanation: People may judge risk to be low without available personal experiences, may be less careful than expected when not observed, and may falter without an injunction from authority. To test these hypotheses, we conducted a randomized trial of 861 clinicians prescribing to 170 persons who subsequently suffered fatal overdoses. Clinicians in the intervention group received notification of their patients’ deaths and a safe prescribing injunction from their county’s medical examiner, whereas physicians in the control group did not. Milligram morphine equivalents in prescriptions filled by patients of letter recipients versus controls decreased by 9.7% (95% confidence interval: 6.2 to 13.2%; P < 0.001) over 3 months after intervention. We also observed both fewer opioid initiates and fewer high-dose opioid prescriptions by letter recipients.
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Ancient convergent losses of Paraoxonase 1 yield potential risks for modern marine mammals ()
Mammals diversified by colonizing drastically different environments, with each transition yielding numerous molecular changes, including losses of protein function. Though not initially deleterious, these losses could subsequently carry deleterious pleiotropic consequences. We have used phylogenetic methods to identify convergent functional losses across independent marine mammal lineages. In one extreme case, Paraoxonase 1 (PON1) accrued lesions in all marine lineages, while remaining intact in all terrestrial mammals. These lesions coincide with PON1 enzymatic activity loss in marine species’ blood plasma. This convergent loss is likely explained by parallel shifts in marine ancestors’ lipid metabolism and/or bloodstream oxidative environment affecting PON1’s role in fatty acid oxidation. PON1 loss also eliminates marine mammals’ main defense against neurotoxicity from specific man-made organophosphorus compounds, implying potential risks in modern environments.
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Single-cell transcriptomes from human kidneys reveal the cellular identity of renal tumors ()
Messenger RNA encodes cellular function and phenotype. In the context of human cancer, it defines the identities of malignant cells and the diversity of tumor tissue. We studied 72,501 single-cell transcriptomes of human renal tumors and normal tissue from fetal, pediatric, and adult kidneys. We matched childhood Wilms tumor with specific fetal cell types, thus providing evidence for the hypothesis that Wilms tumor cells are aberrant fetal cells. In adult renal cell carcinoma, we identified a canonical cancer transcriptome that matched a little-known subtype of proximal convoluted tubular cell. Analyses of the tumor composition defined cancer-associated normal cells and delineated a complex vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) signaling circuit. Our findings reveal the precise cellular identities and compositions of human kidney tumors.
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Lacteal junction zippering protects against diet-induced obesity ()
Excess dietary lipid uptake causes obesity, a major global health problem. Enterocyte-absorbed lipids are packaged into chylomicrons, which enter the bloodstream through intestinal lymphatic vessels called lacteals. Here, we show that preventing lacteal chylomicron uptake by inducible endothelial genetic deletion of Neuropilin1 (Nrp1) and Vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 1 (Vegfr1; also known as Flt1) renders mice resistant to diet-induced obesity. Absence of NRP1 and FLT1 receptors increased VEGF-A bioavailability and signaling through VEGFR2, inducing lacteal junction zippering and chylomicron malabsorption. Restoring permeable lacteal junctions by VEGFR2 and vascular endothelial (VE)–cadherin signaling inhibition rescued chylomicron transport in the mutant mice. Zippering of lacteal junctions by disassembly of cytoskeletal VE-cadherin anchors prevented chylomicron uptake in wild-type mice. These data suggest that lacteal junctions may be targets for preventing dietary fat uptake.
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A liquid phase of synapsin and lipid vesicles ()
Neurotransmitter-containing synaptic vesicles (SVs) form tight clusters at synapses. These clusters act as a reservoir from which SVs are drawn for exocytosis during sustained activity. Several components associated with SVs that are likely to help form such clusters have been reported, including synapsin. Here we found that synapsin can form a distinct liquid phase in an aqueous environment. Other scaffolding proteins could coassemble into this condensate but were not necessary for its formation. Importantly, the synapsin phase could capture small lipid vesicles. The synapsin phase rapidly disassembled upon phosphorylation by calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II, mimicking the dispersion of synapsin 1 that occurs at presynaptic sites upon stimulation. Thus, principles of liquid-liquid phase separation may apply to the clustering of SVs at synapses.
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Apoptosis propagates through the cytoplasm as trigger waves ()
Apoptosis is an evolutionarily conserved form of programmed cell death critical for development and tissue homeostasis in animals. The apoptotic control network includes several positive feedback loops that may allow apoptosis to spread through the cytoplasm in self-regenerating trigger waves. We tested this possibility in cell-free Xenopus laevis egg extracts and observed apoptotic trigger waves with speeds of ~30 micrometers per minute. Fractionation and inhibitor studies implicated multiple feedback loops in generating the waves. Apoptotic oocytes and eggs exhibited surface waves with speeds of ~30 micrometers per minute, which were tightly correlated with caspase activation. Thus, apoptosis spreads through trigger waves in both extracts and intact cells. Our findings show how apoptosis can spread over large distances within a cell and emphasize the general importance of trigger waves in cell signaling.
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New Products ()

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How to start a research lab ()

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Comment on "Unexpected reversal of C3 versus C4 grass response to elevated CO2 during a 20-year field experiment" ()
Reich et al. (Reports, 20 April 2018, p. 317) assert that the responses of C3 and C4 grass biomass to elevated CO2 "challenge the current C3-C4 [elevated CO2] paradigm," but these responses can be explained by the natural history of the experimental plants and soils without challenging this paradigm.
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Response to Comment on "Unexpected reversal of C3 versus C4 grass response to elevated CO2 during a 20-year field experiment" ()
Wolf and Ziska suggest that soil and species attributes can explain an unexpected 20-year reversal of C3-C4 grass responses to elevated CO2. This is consistent with our original interpretation; however, we disagree with the assertion that such explanations somehow render our results irrelevant for questioning a long-standing paradigm of plant response to CO2 based on C3-C4 differences in photosynthetic pathway.
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Mapping the dark space of chemical reactions with extended nanomole synthesis and MALDI-TOF MS ()
Understanding the practical limitations of chemical reactions is critically important for efficiently planning the synthesis of compounds in pharmaceutical, agrochemical, and specialty chemical research and development. However, literature reports of the scope of new reactions are often cursory and biased toward successful results, severely limiting the ability to predict reaction outcomes for untested substrates. We herein illustrate strategies for carrying out large-scale surveys of chemical reactivity by using a material-sparing nanomole-scale automated synthesis platform with greatly expanded synthetic scope combined with ultrahigh-throughput matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization–time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS).
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Dissipative Kerr solitons in optical microresonators ()
The development of compact, chip-scale optical frequency comb sources (microcombs) based on parametric frequency conversion in microresonators has seen applications in terabit optical coherent communications, atomic clocks, ultrafast distance measurements, dual-comb spectroscopy, and the calibration of astophysical spectrometers and have enabled the creation of photonic-chip integrated frequency synthesizers. Underlying these recent advances has been the observation of temporal dissipative Kerr solitons in microresonators, which represent self-enforcing, stationary, and localized solutions of a damped, driven, and detuned nonlinear Schrödinger equation, which was first introduced to describe spatial self-organization phenomena. The generation of dissipative Kerr solitons provide a mechanism by which coherent optical combs with bandwidth exceeding one octave can be synthesized and have given rise to a host of phenomena, such as the Stokes soliton, soliton crystals, soliton switching, or dispersive waves. Soliton microcombs are compact, are compatible with wafer-scale processing, operate at low power, can operate with gigahertz to terahertz line spacing, and can enable the implementation of frequency combs in remote and mobile environments outside the laboratory environment, on Earth, airborne, or in outer space.
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Structural basis for the recognition of Sonic Hedgehog by human Patched1 ()
The Hedgehog (Hh) pathway involved in development and regeneration is activated by the extracellular binding of Hh to the membrane receptor Patched (Ptch). We report the structures of human Ptch1 alone and in complex with the N-terminal domain of human Sonic hedgehog (ShhN) at resolutions of 3.9 and 3.6 angstroms, respectively, as determined by cryo–electron microscopy. Ptch1 comprises two interacting extracellular domains, ECD1 and ECD2, and 12 transmembrane segments (TMs), with TMs 2 to 6 constituting the sterol-sensing domain (SSD). Two steroid-shaped densities are resolved in both structures, one enclosed by ECD1/2 and the other in the membrane-facing cavity of the SSD. Structure-guided mutational analysis shows that interaction between ShhN and Ptch1 is steroid-dependent. The structure of a steroid binding–deficient Ptch1 mutant displays pronounced conformational rearrangements.
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