Editors' Choice

Science  15 Jan 2021:
Vol. 371, Issue 6526, pp. 249
  1. Fishing

    Corporations dominate the high seas

    1. Sacha Vignieri

    About a third of fishing vessels on the high seas are owned by large corporations.


    Fishing in the high seas (regions outside of countries' exclusive economic zones) is often likened to the Wild West. It is a vast area that has been challenging to monitor—and to fish. But as technologies have improved, the high seas have become more accessible, a worrying trend for maintaining biodiversity in this region, which covers much of the planet. Monitoring technologies have also improved, however, and Carmine et al. used satellite and vessel ownership data to identify fishing activity and determine who was conducting it. They found that ∼1000 corporations owned the >2000 vessels, but one-third of the identified vessels were owned by 100 corporations, revealing a pattern of conglomeration. Knowledge of the corporate actors, and how and where they fish, is an essential step toward sustainable high-seas fishing.

    One Earth 3, P730 (2020).

  2. Framework Materials

    Modulating structural diversity

    1. Phil Szuromi

    Although most combinations of metal-organic framework (MOF) nodes and linkers lead to one topology, some nodes such as Zr6 support a wide range of connectivities and even form different topologies with the same linker. Chen et al. report on controlling the formation of four different MOF topologies of this node with the 1,4-dibromo-2,3,5,6-tetrakis(4-carboxyphenyl) benzene (H4TCPB-Br2) linker by changing two solvents and two modulators that competitively bind to the nodes. All syntheses were performed under the same conditions, but the solvent (N,N-dimethylformamide versus N,N-diethylformamide), the modulator (formic acid versus acetic acid), and their concentrations were changed. The different frameworks displayed different sorption properties for organic molecules, and one had a new topology with a five-connection Zr node.

    J. Am. Chem. Soc. 142, 21428 (2020).

  3. Cancer

    Fatty acids all around, but none to eat

    1. L. Bryan Ray

    Tumor cells adapt in adipose mice by increasing consumption of fatty acids, but this starves immune cells of essential nutrients.


    Obesity is a major risk factor for developing cancer. Although tumor cells have distinct adaptations to an adipose environment, a high-fat diet in mice impairs CD8+ T cell function. That is the challenge that Ringel et al. found for CD8+ T cells trying to fight colorectal adenocarcinoma cells in a mouse model. The interaction of metabolic alterations with cancer progression is complicated, particularly in the tumor microenvironment. Tumor cells responded to a high-fat diet by enhancing the uptake of fatty acids. Enhanced consumption of fatty acids appeared to leave insufficient amounts to support the CD8+ T cells that would normally help to eliminate the cancer. In mice, preventing tumor cells from hogging fatty acids by metabolic reprogramming improved the antitumor T cell response.

    Cell 183, P1848 (2020).

  4. Mineralogy

    A new structure for an old mineral

    1. Brent Grocholski

    The rare mineral kaliophilite, discovered in 1839, has the simple formula of KAlSiO4, but this is a surprisingly challenging crystal structure to nail down. Mugnaioli et al. determined the structure using a combination of techniques including electron and x-ray diffraction. Kaliophilite has a complex and intriguing framework structure with several different silicate tetrahedra–based rings and the potential for very large cavities. This discovery opens the door to developing other useful topologies for applications such as catalysis, photonics, and more.

    IUCrJ 7, 1070 (2020).

  5. Human Genomics

    Portable polygenic risk

    1. Laura M. Zahn

    Most genome-wide association studies (GWASs) have been performed on individuals of European descent. This imbalance has led to questions regarding how useful the findings of such studies, such as a polygenic risk score (PRS), are for individuals from other populations. Amariuta et al. examined 707 cell type–specific epigenetic regulatory annotations that had been identified in 111 GWASs investigating polygenic diseases and traits at transcription factor–binding sites in individuals of European and East Asian origin. Their method allowed them to prioritize those variants that affect gene regulation and improve transancestry PRS. Although population-specific causal effect sizes could not be determined, the results of this study indicate that information regarding functional genetic variation associated with disease and gene regulation is transferable across human populations.

    Nat. Genet. 52, 1346 (2020).

  6. X-Ray Imaging

    Stabilizing rock and roll

    1. Ian S. Osborne

    Surface strain fields on a gold nanoparticle rotating under the influence of a focused coherent x-ray beam

    CREDIT: A. BJÖRLING ET AL., PHYS. REV. LETT. 125, 246101 (2020)

    Coherent diffraction imaging with x-rays is a powerful characterization technique for nanoparticles. Piecing together the two-dimensional Bragg diffraction patterns through slices of the sample provides a three-dimensional picture of the structure and strain. However, for nanoparticles, the x-ray beam can induce mechanical instabilities in the sample; the rotation, rocking, and rolling that occur tend to limit the resolution of the information obtained. Björling et al. adapted a diffractive volume assembly algorithm that mitigates for the uncontrolled mechanical instabilities and demonstrate that it can be used to reconstruct sharper images of shape-controlled 60-nanometer-sized gold nanoparticles.

    Phys. Rev. Lett. 125, 246101 (2020).

  7. Metabolism

    Communicating stress

    1. Gemma Alderton

    Gap junctions are channels that connect the cytoplasm of adjacent cells and are composed of connexin subunits. Tirosh et al. found that gap junctions comprising connexin 43 (CX43) are increased when hepatocytes undergo endoplasmic reticulum stress (ERS), which is associated with obesity-induced insulin resistance. Hepatocytes from obese mice could intercellularly transmit ERS to hepatocytes from lean mice when they were cocultured. Moreover, ablation of CX43 prevented mice from developing diet-induced ERS, insulin resistance, and liver injury. Although the factor (or factors) that allows transmission of ERS between cells remains unknown, this study illuminates tissue bystander effects that can have systemic effects on glucose homeostasis.

    Cell Metab. 10.1016/j.cmet.2020.11.009 (2020).

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