Riviste scientifiche

Not so different

Science - Gio, 14/01/2021 - 19:37

Modulating structural diversity

Science - Gio, 14/01/2021 - 19:37

A new structure for an old mineral

Science - Gio, 14/01/2021 - 19:37

Portable polygenic risk

Science - Gio, 14/01/2021 - 19:37

Stabilizing rock and roll

Science - Gio, 14/01/2021 - 19:37

Communicating stress

Science - Gio, 14/01/2021 - 19:37

Controlled hydroxylations of diterpenoids allow for plant chemical defense without autotoxicity

Science - Gio, 14/01/2021 - 19:37

Many plant specialized metabolites function in herbivore defense, and abrogating particular steps in their biosynthetic pathways frequently causes autotoxicity. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying their defense and autotoxicity remain unclear. Here, we show that silencing two cytochrome P450s involved in diterpene biosynthesis in the wild tobacco Nicotiana attenuata causes severe autotoxicity symptoms that result from the inhibition of sphingolipid biosynthesis by noncontrolled hydroxylated diterpene derivatives. Moreover, the diterpenes’ defensive function is achieved by inhibiting herbivore sphingolipid biosynthesis through postingestive backbone hydroxylation products. Thus, by regulating metabolic modifications, tobacco plants avoid autotoxicity and gain herbivore defense. The postdigestive duet that occurs between plants and their insect herbivores can reflect the plant’s solutions to the "toxic waste dump" problem of using potent chemical defenses.

Formation of {alpha} clusters in dilute neutron-rich matter

Science - Gio, 14/01/2021 - 19:37

The surface of neutron-rich heavy nuclei, with a neutron skin created by excess neutrons, provides an important terrestrial model system to study dilute neutron-rich matter. By using quasi-free α cluster–knockout reactions, we obtained direct experimental evidence for the formation of α clusters at the surface of neutron-rich tin isotopes. The observed monotonous decrease of the reaction cross sections with increasing mass number, in excellent agreement with the theoretical prediction, implies a tight interplay between α-cluster formation and the neutron skin. This result, in turn, calls for a revision of the correlation between the neutron-skin thickness and the density dependence of the symmetry energy, which is essential for understanding neutron stars. Our result also provides a natural explanation for the origin of α particles in α decay.

Senolysis by glutaminolysis inhibition ameliorates various age-associated disorders

Science - Gio, 14/01/2021 - 19:37

Removal of senescent cells (senolysis) has been proposed to be beneficial for improving age-associated pathologies, but the molecular pathways for such senolytic activity have not yet emerged. Here, we identified glutaminase 1 (GLS1) as an essential gene for the survival of human senescent cells. The intracellular pH in senescent cells was lowered by lysosomal membrane damage, and this lowered pH induced kidney-type glutaminase (KGA) expression. The resulting enhanced glutaminolysis induced ammonia production, which neutralized the lower pH and improved survival of the senescent cells. Inhibition of KGA-dependent glutaminolysis in aged mice eliminated senescent cells specifically and ameliorated age-associated organ dysfunction. Our results suggest that senescent cells rely on glutaminolysis, and its inhibition offers a promising strategy for inducing senolysis in vivo.

GPER1 is required to protect fetal health from maternal inflammation

Science - Gio, 14/01/2021 - 19:37

Type I interferon (IFN) signaling in fetal tissues causes developmental abnormalities and fetal demise. Although pathogens that infect fetal tissues can induce birth defects through the local production of type I IFN, it remains unknown why systemic IFN generated during maternal infections only rarely causes fetal developmental defects. Here, we report that activation of the guanine nucleotide–binding protein–coupled estrogen receptor 1 (GPER1) during pregnancy is both necessary and sufficient to suppress IFN signaling and does so disproportionately in reproductive and fetal tissues. Inactivation of GPER1 in mice halted fetal development and promoted fetal demise, but only in the context of maternal inflammation. Thus, GPER1 is a central regulator of IFN signaling during pregnancy that allows dynamic antiviral responses in maternal tissues while also preserving fetal health.

Plant roots sense soil compaction through restricted ethylene diffusion

Science - Gio, 14/01/2021 - 19:37

Soil compaction represents a major challenge for modern agriculture. Compaction is intuitively thought to reduce root growth by limiting the ability of roots to penetrate harder soils. We report that root growth in compacted soil is instead actively suppressed by the volatile hormone ethylene. We found that mutant Arabidopsis and rice roots that were insensitive to ethylene penetrated compacted soil more effectively than did wild-type roots. Our results indicate that soil compaction lowers gas diffusion through a reduction in air-filled pores, thereby causing ethylene to accumulate in root tissues and trigger hormone responses that restrict growth. We propose that ethylene acts as an early warning signal for roots to avoid compacted soils, which would be relevant to research into the breeding of crops resilient to soil compaction.

Driving energetically unfavorable dehydrogenation dynamics with plasmonics

Science - Gio, 14/01/2021 - 19:37

Nanoparticle surface structure and geometry generally dictate where chemical transformations occur, with higher chemical activity at sites with lower activation energies. Here, we show how optical excitation of plasmons enables spatially modified phase transformations, activating otherwise energetically unfavorable sites. We have designed a crossed-bar Au-PdHx antenna-reactor system that localizes electromagnetic enhancement away from the innately reactive PdHx nanorod tips. Using optically coupled in situ environmental transmission electron microscopy, we track the dehydrogenation of individual antenna-reactor pairs with varying optical illumination intensity, wavelength, and hydrogen pressure. Our in situ experiments show that plasmons enable new catalytic sites, including dehydrogenation at the nanorod faces. Molecular dynamics simulations confirm that these new nucleation sites are energetically unfavorable in equilibrium and only accessible through tailored plasmonic excitation.

Learning the language of viral evolution and escape

Science - Gio, 14/01/2021 - 19:37

The ability for viruses to mutate and evade the human immune system and cause infection, called viral escape, remains an obstacle to antiviral and vaccine development. Understanding the complex rules that govern escape could inform therapeutic design. We modeled viral escape with machine learning algorithms originally developed for human natural language. We identified escape mutations as those that preserve viral infectivity but cause a virus to look different to the immune system, akin to word changes that preserve a sentence’s grammaticality but change its meaning. With this approach, language models of influenza hemagglutinin, HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein (HIV Env), and severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) Spike viral proteins can accurately predict structural escape patterns using sequence data alone. Our study represents a promising conceptual bridge between natural language and viral evolution.

Three-quarters attack rate of SARS-CoV-2 in the Brazilian Amazon during a largely unmitigated epidemic

Science - Gio, 14/01/2021 - 19:37

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) spread rapidly in Manaus, the capital of Amazonas state in northern Brazil. The attack rate there is an estimate of the final size of the largely unmitigated epidemic that occurred in Manaus. We use a convenience sample of blood donors to show that by June 2020, 1 month after the epidemic peak in Manaus, 44% of the population had detectable immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies. Correcting for cases without a detectable antibody response and for antibody waning, we estimate a 66% attack rate in June, rising to 76% in October. This is higher than in São Paulo, in southeastern Brazil, where the estimated attack rate in October was 29%. These results confirm that when poorly controlled, COVID-19 can infect a large proportion of the population, causing high mortality.

Local convergence of behavior across species

Science - Gio, 14/01/2021 - 19:37

Behavior is a way for organisms to respond flexibly to the environmental conditions they encounter. Our own species exhibits large behavioral flexibility and occurs in all terrestrial habitats, sharing these environments with many other species. It remains unclear to what extent a shared environment constrains behavior and whether these constraints apply similarly across species. Here, we show that foraging human populations and nonhuman mammal and bird species that live in a given environment exhibit high levels of similarity in their foraging, reproductive, and social behaviors. Our findings suggest that local conditions may select for similar behaviors in both humans and nonhuman animals.