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Field-induced transition within the superconducting state of CeRh2As2

Gio, 26/08/2021 - 18:43

Materials with multiple superconducting phases are rare. Here, we report the discovery of two-phase unconventional superconductivity in CeRh2As2. Using thermodynamic probes, we establish that the superconducting critical field of its high-field phase is as high as 14 tesla, even though the transition temperature is only 0.26 kelvin. Furthermore, a transition between two different superconducting phases is observed in a c axis magnetic field. Local inversion-symmetry breaking at the cerium sites enables Rashba spin-orbit coupling alternating between the cerium sublayers. The staggered Rashba coupling introduces a layer degree of freedom to which the field-induced transition and high critical field seen in experiment are likely related.

Low thermal conductivity in a modular inorganic material with bonding anisotropy and mismatch

Gio, 26/08/2021 - 18:43

The thermal conductivity of crystalline materials cannot be arbitrarily low, as the intrinsic limit depends on the phonon dispersion. We used complementary strategies to suppress the contribution of the longitudinal and transverse phonons to heat transport in layered materials that contain different types of intrinsic chemical interfaces. BiOCl and Bi2O2Se encapsulate these design principles for longitudinal and transverse modes, respectively, and the bulk superlattice material Bi4O4SeCl2 combines these effects by ordering both interface types within its unit cell to reach an extremely low thermal conductivity of 0.1 watts per kelvin per meter at room temperature along its stacking direction. This value comes within a factor of four of the thermal conductivity of air. We demonstrated that chemical control of the spatial arrangement of distinct interfaces can synergically modify vibrational modes to minimize thermal conductivity.

Highly conductive and elastic nanomembrane for skin electronics

Gio, 26/08/2021 - 18:43

Skin electronics require stretchable conductors that satisfy metallike conductivity, high stretchability, ultrathin thickness, and facile patternability, but achieving these characteristics simultaneously is challenging. We present a float assembly method to fabricate a nanomembrane that meets all these requirements. The method enables a compact assembly of nanomaterials at the water–oil interface and their partial embedment in an ultrathin elastomer membrane, which can distribute the applied strain in the elastomer membrane and thus lead to a high elasticity even with the high loading of the nanomaterials. Furthermore, the structure allows cold welding and bilayer stacking, resulting in high conductivity. These properties are preserved even after high-resolution patterning by using photolithography. A multifunctional epidermal sensor array can be fabricated with the patterned nanomembranes.

A positive relationship between functional redundancy and temperature in Cenozoic marine ecosystems

Gio, 26/08/2021 - 18:43

The long-term effects of climate change on biodiversity and biogeographic patterns are uncertain. There are known relationships between geographic area and both the number of species and the number of ecological functional groups—termed the species-area relationship and the functional diversity–area relationship, respectively. We show that there is a positive relationship between the number of species in an area, the number of ecological functional groups, and oceanic temperature in the shallow-marine fossil record of New Zealand over a time span of ~40 million years. One implication of this relationship is that functional redundancy increases with temperature. This reveals a long-lived and persistent association between the spatial structuring of biodiversity, the temperature-dependence of functional redundancy, and shallow-marine biodiversity in mid-latitudes.

Population sequencing data reveal a compendium of mutational processes in the human germ line

Gio, 26/08/2021 - 18:43

Biological mechanisms underlying human germline mutations remain largely unknown. We statistically decompose variation in the rate and spectra of mutations along the genome using volume-regularized nonnegative matrix factorization. The analysis of a sequencing dataset (TOPMed) reveals nine processes that explain the variation in mutation properties between loci. We provide a biological interpretation for seven of these processes. We associate one process with bulky DNA lesions that are resolved asymmetrically with respect to transcription and replication. Two processes track direction of replication fork and replication timing, respectively. We identify a mutagenic effect of active demethylation primarily acting in regulatory regions and a mutagenic effect of long interspersed nuclear elements. We localize a mutagenic process specific to oocytes from population sequencing data. This process appears transcriptionally asymmetric.

Insolation triggered abrupt weakening of Atlantic circulation at the end of interglacials

Gio, 26/08/2021 - 18:43

Abrupt cooling is observed at the end of interglacials in many paleoclimate records, but the mechanism responsible remains unclear. Using model simulations, we demonstrate that there exists a threshold in the level of astronomically induced insolation below which abrupt changes at the end of interglacials of the past 800,000 years occur. When decreasing insolation reaches the critical value, it triggers a strong, abrupt weakening of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation and a cooler mean climate state accompanied by high-amplitude variations lasting for several thousand years. The mechanism involves sea ice feedbacks in the Nordic and Labrador Seas. The ubiquity of this threshold suggests its fundamental role in terminating the warm climate conditions at the end of interglacials.

Enterococcus peptidoglycan remodeling promotes checkpoint inhibitor cancer immunotherapy

Gio, 26/08/2021 - 18:43

The antitumor efficacy of cancer immunotherapy can correlate with the presence of certain bacterial species within the gut microbiome. However, many of the molecular mechanisms that influence host response to immunotherapy remain elusive. In this study, we show that members of the bacterial genus Enterococcus improve checkpoint inhibitor immunotherapy in mouse tumor models. Active enterococci express and secrete orthologs of the NlpC/p60 peptidoglycan hydrolase SagA that generate immune-active muropeptides. Expression of SagA in nonprotective E. faecalis was sufficient to promote immunotherapy response, and its activity required the peptidoglycan sensor NOD2. Notably, SagA-engineered probiotics or synthetic muropeptides also augmented anti–PD-L1 antitumor efficacy. Taken together, our data suggest that microbiota species with specialized peptidoglycan remodeling activity and muropeptide-based therapeutics may enhance cancer immunotherapy and could be leveraged as next-generation adjuvants.

Geometric deep learning of RNA structure

Gio, 26/08/2021 - 18:43

RNA molecules adopt three-dimensional structures that are critical to their function and of interest in drug discovery. Few RNA structures are known, however, and predicting them computationally has proven challenging. We introduce a machine learning approach that enables identification of accurate structural models without assumptions about their defining characteristics, despite being trained with only 18 known RNA structures. The resulting scoring function, the Atomic Rotationally Equivariant Scorer (ARES), substantially outperforms previous methods and consistently produces the best results in community-wide blind RNA structure prediction challenges. By learning effectively even from a small amount of data, our approach overcomes a major limitation of standard deep neural networks. Because it uses only atomic coordinates as inputs and incorporates no RNA-specific information, this approach is applicable to diverse problems in structural biology, chemistry, materials science, and beyond.

Waking up to my sleep disorder

Gio, 26/08/2021 - 18:43

Prenatal maternal infection promotes tissue-specific immunity and inflammation in offspring

Gio, 26/08/2021 - 18:43

The immune system has evolved in the face of microbial exposure. How maternal infection experienced at distinct developmental stages shapes the offspring immune system remains poorly understood. Here, we show that during pregnancy, maternally restricted infection can have permanent and tissue-specific impacts on offspring immunity. Mechanistically, maternal interleukin-6 produced in response to infection can directly impose epigenetic changes on fetal intestinal epithelial stem cells, leading to long-lasting impacts on intestinal immune homeostasis. As a result, offspring of previously infected dams develop enhanced protective immunity to gut infection and increased inflammation in the context of colitis. Thus, maternal infection can be coopted by the fetus to promote long-term, tissue-specific fitness, a phenomenon that may come at the cost of predisposition to inflammatory disorders.

Developmental and evolutionary dynamics of cis-regulatory elements in mouse cerebellar cells

Gio, 26/08/2021 - 18:43

Organ development is orchestrated by cell- and time-specific gene regulatory networks. In this study, we investigated the regulatory basis of mouse cerebellum development from early neurogenesis to adulthood. By acquiring snATAC-seq (single-nucleus assay for transposase accessible chromatin using sequencing) profiles for ~90,000 cells spanning 11 stages, we mapped cerebellar cell types and identified candidate cis-regulatory elements (CREs). We detected extensive spatiotemporal heterogeneity among progenitor cells and a gradual divergence in the regulatory programs of cerebellar neurons during differentiation. Comparisons to vertebrate genomes and snATAC-seq profiles for ~20,000 cerebellar cells from the marsupial opossum revealed a shared decrease in CRE conservation during development and differentiation as well as differences in constraint between cell types. Our work delineates the developmental and evolutionary dynamics of gene regulation in cerebellar cells and provides insights into mammalian organ development.

Airborne transmission of respiratory viruses

Gio, 26/08/2021 - 18:43

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed critical knowledge gaps in our understanding of and a need to update the traditional view of transmission pathways for respiratory viruses. The long-standing definitions of droplet and airborne transmission do not account for the mechanisms by which virus-laden respiratory droplets and aerosols travel through the air and lead to infection. In this Review, we discuss current evidence regarding the transmission of respiratory viruses by aerosols—how they are generated, transported, and deposited, as well as the factors affecting the relative contributions of droplet-spray deposition versus aerosol inhalation as modes of transmission. Improved understanding of aerosol transmission brought about by studies of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection requires a reevaluation of the major transmission pathways for other respiratory viruses, which will allow better-informed controls to reduce airborne transmission.

Colleges must require vaccination

Gio, 26/08/2021 - 18:43

News at a glance

Gio, 26/08/2021 - 18:43

Feeling the pressure

Gio, 26/08/2021 - 18:43