Editors' Choice

Editors' Choice

Science  25 Nov 2016:
Vol. 354, Issue 6315, pp. 1017
  1. Psychology

    Continuing the dialog via experiment

    1. Gilbert Chin

    Classic studies of pouting are helping psychologists explore replication.


    Recent discussions about reproducibility within the psychology community have been heated and, at times, acrimonious. The registered replication report by Wagenmakers et al. and the comment by Strack map out one way forward, in terms of experimental design, analysis, interpretation, and rebuttal. The original study, a classic from 1988, reported the effect of facial expressions (a smile or a pout) on a subsequent affective judgment. The replication involved 17 laboratories following a vetted experimental design and blinded analysis plan. The overall result is nonreplication, although Strack offers reasons why the original effect was not observed.

    Persp. Psychol. Sci. 11, 10/1177/1745691616674458, 10.1177/1745691616674460 (2016).

  2. Cancer Immunotherapy

    Cardiac side effect

    1. Lisa D. Chong

    Antibodies that block CTLA-4 (cytotoxic T lymphocyte–associated antigen 4) and PD-1 (programmed death 1) allow T cells to launch antitumor immune responses. Although these checkpoint inhibitors improve survival in melanoma patients, inflammation of other tissues is a common side effect. Johnson et al. report that two melanoma patients treated with a combination of the checkpoint inhibitors developed fatal cardiac damage. Biopsies revealed that T cells and macrophages that infiltrated the heart were the same as those found in skeletal muscle and the tumor. Neither patient had cardiac risk factors other than hypertension. Review of a safety database suggests that severe myocarditis from such combination therapy affects less than 1% of patients. The mechanism for this rare toxic effect is not known.

    New Engl. J. Med. 375, 1749 (2016); Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 10.1073/pnas.1603325113 (2016).

  3. Cancer Therapy

    A new direction for breast cancer therapy

    1. Priscilla Kelly

    Triple-negative breast cancer has the worst prognosis of the breast cancer subtypes. Aggressive forms of this cancer show elevated signaling through the transcription factor MYC, but blocking MYC activity remains challenging because of its role in normal cell function. Horiuchi et al. screened the protein kinases expressed by triple-negative breast tumors in hopes of finding a way to thwart MYC indirectly. They identified PIM1, a nonessential protein kinase that was highly active in MYC-positive tumors. Genetic depletion of PIM1 promoted cancer cell death, and preclinical drugs targeting PIM1 impaired the growth of MYC-positive patient tumors in mice. These findings pave the way for the development of PIM1 inhibitors in early-phase clinical trials.

    Nat. Med. 10.1038/nm.4213 (2016).

  4. Plant-Animal Interactions

    Ants farming plants

    1. Sacha Vignieri

    Mutualistic interactions between ants and plants are relatively common, most often occurring in plants that produce specific structures for ant occupation. A relationship that more closely approximates farming occurs between ants and fungi, in which ants actively create growing conditions for and propagate the fungal partner. Chomicki and Renner now describe a system in Fiji in which ants in the genus Philidris conduct such gardening activities in six different species of epiphytic plants, often simultaneously. Specifically, they not only manage growing conditions but also disperse and plant seeds and pollinate flowers. This more intensive management helps to ensure reestablishment of plants that provide fruits and resources to the ants and that might otherwise be harder to come by.

    Nat. Plants 10.1038/nplants.2016.181 (2016).

  5. Magnetism

    THz-driven magnetism goes nonlinear

    1. Jelena Stajic

    Manipulation of magnetism in solids by terahertz (THz) radiation may enable applications in information storage and processing. Experiments so far have explored a regime in which the magneto-optical response is linear, but entering the nonlinear regime is important for applications. Baierl et al. achieved this goal in the antiferromagnetic compound NiO. The magnetic field of the THz radiation that they shone on the sample coupled to the spins in the material, causing them to precess. In addition to a dominant and expected frequency of 1THz, a peak appeared at double that frequency, signifying a nonlinear response. The advance may enable progress toward magnetic THz spin-switching.

    Phys. Rev. Lett. 117, 197201 (2016).

  6. Chemistry

    A clean combination of CO and amines

    1. Jake Yeston

    It is rare for synthetically useful chemical reactions to proceed as though two parts are simply cut and pasted together. Wang et al. present just such a route to formamides, which are widely used as organic solvents and chemical reagents. The reaction, catalyzed by ruthenium supported on ceria, formally inserts carbon monoxide into a N–H bond of primary or secondary amines. Neither extraneous reagents nor by-products are involved. The authors further demonstrate a continuous flow protocol for dimethylformamide preparation that proceeds for 12 days with less than 5% activity loss.

    Green Chem. 10.1039/c6gc02603f (2016).

  7. Ice Sheets

    Fast action with little effect

    1. Keith T. Smith

    The ice–ocean interface helps determine how ice sheets decay.


    Pine Island Glacier (PIG) is responsible for a major part of Antarctica's ice loss, with an ice stream whose rate of flow to the sea accelerated by around 75% between 1974 and 2010. Like many similar glaciers, its decay is thought to be linked to warming of the ocean with which it makes contact. Christianson et al. report subannual observations of PIG for the period 2009 to 2014, which show that glacier retreat and accelerated ice flow likely were initiated decades ago by such ocean-induced melting, and that transient ocean cooling has only a relatively minor effect on ice flow once marine ice sheet instability is under way. The long-term effects of ocean temperature variability on ice flow still are not known, however.

    Geophys. Res. Lett. 10.1002/2016GL070500 (2016).