Editors' Choice

Science  16 Oct 2015:
Vol. 350, Issue 6258, pp. 289
  1. Primate Behavior

    Great apes can anticipate

    1. Laura Schuhmacher

    Great apes can remember and anticipate surprising events

    PHOTO: CYRIL RUOSO/CORBIS

    Humans can process and store memories as events occur. For example, when we rewatch movies, we can recall and anticipate what will happen next. Kano and Hirata tested whether nonhuman primates also possess this skill by presenting bonobos and chimpanzees with short films and tracking their eye movements. In one film, the apes watched as a villain attacked an actor in a King-Kong suit with one of two objects. Twenty-four hours later, the scientists presented the apes with the same scene, but switching the objects' location. Most of the apes focused their attention on the previously weaponized object shortly before the attack, indicating that they had memorized the events during the previous viewing and could anticipate what happens next.

    Curr. Biol. 25, 2513 (2015).

  2. RNA Processing

    Tipping your RNA cap to stressful times

    1. Guy Riddihough

    RNAs transcribed by RNA polymerase II have a chemical “cap” added to their 5′ ends. The cap binding complex (CBC), which consists of the nuclear cap binding protein (NCBP) 1 and NCBP2, binds to the cap and ensures proper RNA processing and localization within the cell. Gebhardt et al. discovered a second, alternative CBC, which consists of NCBP1 and a previously poorly characterized but highly conserved protein, christened NCBP3. The two CBCs have both redundant and specific functions, with the alternative CBC seemingly being specifically critical for survival under stressful conditions, such as viral infection.

    Nat. Comm. 6, 10.1038/ncomms9192 (2015).

  3. Cancer

    Disrupted signaling networks in cancer

    1. L. Bryan Ray

    For personalized cancer therapy to succeed in the clinic, scientists need to identify and understand how genetic mutations in tumor cells can drive uncontrolled cell growth. In two studies, Creixell et al. present theoretical, computational, and experimental analysis of the mechanisms by which mutations might alter a cancer cell's biochemical regulatory networks. A computational approach helped define the molecular basis of substrate specificity of protein kinases, enzymes well known to contribute to certain forms of cancer. Such understanding can help define mutations that would cause signaling to go awry in cancer cells. Their results support the idea that besides modifications that activate or suppress normal signaling events, cancer cells may also accumulate mutations that actually rewire regulatory pathways.

    Cell 163, 187; 202 (2015).

  4. Hydrology

    Smart rocks teach river lessons

    1. Nicholas S. Wigginton

    Rivers are conveyor belts of erosion, transporting material from continents to the oceans. Measuring how larger gravel and cobbles travel along a riverbed is challenging because of the stochastic nature of grain movement and the dependence on infrequent yet powerful flood events. Olinde and Johnson measured bed load transport in Reynolds Creek in the Owyhee Mountains (Idaho, USA) using hundreds of natural and artificial rocks with radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags and accelerometers as passive and active tracers. After a series of flood and snowmelt events, these “smart rocks” provided direct statistics on bed load displacement, in some cases over 7 km downstream, and rest times as a function of discharge.

    “Smart rock” with an embedded accelerometer and radio frequency identification tag

    PHOTO: DR. LINDSAY OLINDE/UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS

    Water Resour. Res. 10.1002/2014WR016120 (2015).

  5. Mucosal Immunology

    For gut T cells, it's location, location, location

    1. Kristen L. Mueller

    Bacteria that adhere to intestinal epihelial cells induce T helper 17 cells

    PHOTO: IVANOV ET AL., MUCOSAL IMMUNOLOGY (10 FEBRUARY 2010) © 2010 NATURE

    Specific members of the gut microbiota promote the development of different subsets of T lymphocytes in the guta, thereby modulating gut immunity. One example is segmented filamentous bacteria (SFB), which drive the differentiation of T helper 17 (TH17) cells. The cellular and molecular mechanisms that support this process remain poorly understood. Atarashi et al. now demonstrate that several species of bacteria able to adhere to intestinal epithelial cells, including SFB, drive TH17 cell differentiation in rodents. Sano et al. found that SFB primed TH17 cells in mesenteric lymph nodes. However, these cells only produced interleukin-17, their signature cytokine, in regions of the gut where SFB makes contact with epithelial cells that secrete the inflammatory protein serum amyloid A.

    Cell 10.1016/j.cell.2015.08.058; 10.1016/j.cell.2015.08.061 (2015).

  6. Quantum Electronics

    Quantum processing takes to the waves

    1. Ian S. Osborne

    The power of quantum computers is expected to be realized only once the individual components, the quantum bits (or qubits), can be linked up into a large-scale system. Success also requires that the quantum information be reliably transported from one part of the system to another for processing. With several different approaches being undertaken, Schuetz et al. propose that surface acoustic waves could propagate the quantum information across a diverse set of solid-state architectures. With piezoactive materials forming a connected network between qubits, they show theoretically that the quanta should be able to “surf” the acoustic excitations for a variety of on-chip implementations of a quantum computer.

    Phys. Rev. X 5, 31031 (2015).

  7. Geophysics

    Coupled constraints on core formation

    1. Brent Grocholski

    The composition of Earth's core puts important constraints on the formation and evolution of the planet. Badro et al. apply a new approach that requires harmony between the geochemistry of the rocky mantle and the seismic wave speed velocities in the metal core. The approach requires a core with more oxygen and less silicon than in older models. Surprisingly, this in turn requires a more oxidized mantle for the early Earth, similar to that of the asteroid 4-Vesta. Core formation then dramatically alters mantle chemistry, producing the more reduced mantle observed today.

    Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 10.1073/pnas.1505672112 (2015).