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A general reinforcement learning algorithm that masters chess, shogi, and Go through self-play

Jue, 12/06/2018 - 12:38

The game of chess is the longest-studied domain in the history of artificial intelligence. The strongest programs are based on a combination of sophisticated search techniques, domain-specific adaptations, and handcrafted evaluation functions that have been refined by human experts over several decades. By contrast, the AlphaGo Zero program recently achieved superhuman performance in the game of Go by reinforcement learning from self-play. In this paper, we generalize this approach into a single AlphaZero algorithm that can achieve superhuman performance in many challenging games. Starting from random play and given no domain knowledge except the game rules, AlphaZero convincingly defeated a world champion program in the games of chess and shogi (Japanese chess), as well as Go.

Room-temperature cycling of metal fluoride electrodes: Liquid electrolytes for high-energy fluoride ion cells

Jue, 12/06/2018 - 12:38

Fluoride ion batteries are potential "next-generation" electrochemical storage devices that offer high energy density. At present, such batteries are limited to operation at high temperatures because suitable fluoride ion–conducting electrolytes are known only in the solid state. We report a liquid fluoride ion–conducting electrolyte with high ionic conductivity, wide operating voltage, and robust chemical stability based on dry tetraalkylammonium fluoride salts in ether solvents. Pairing this liquid electrolyte with a copper–lanthanum trifluoride (Cu@LaF3) core-shell cathode, we demonstrate reversible fluorination and defluorination reactions in a fluoride ion electrochemical cell cycled at room temperature. Fluoride ion–mediated electrochemistry offers a pathway toward developing capacities beyond that of lithium ion technology.

A valley valve and electron beam splitter

Jue, 12/06/2018 - 12:38

Developing alternative paradigms of electronics beyond silicon technology requires the exploration of fundamentally new physical mechanisms, such as the valley-specific phenomena in hexagonal two-dimensional materials. We realize ballistic valley Hall kink states in bilayer graphene and demonstrate gate-controlled current transmission in a four-kink router device. The operations of a waveguide, a valve, and a tunable electron beam splitter are demonstrated. The valley valve exploits the valley-momentum locking of the kink states and reaches an on/off ratio of 8 at zero magnetic field. A magnetic field enables a full-range tunable coherent beam splitter. These results pave a path to building a scalable, coherent quantum transportation network based on the kink states.

Photonic crystals for nano-light in moire graphene superlattices

Jue, 12/06/2018 - 12:38

Graphene is an atomically thin plasmonic medium that supports highly confined plasmon polaritons, or nano-light, with very low loss. Electronic properties of graphene can be drastically altered when it is laid upon another graphene layer, resulting in a moiré superlattice. The relative twist angle between the two layers is a key tuning parameter of the interlayer coupling in thus-obtained twisted bilayer graphene (TBG). We studied the propagation of plasmon polaritons in TBG by infrared nano-imaging. We discovered that the atomic reconstruction occurring at small twist angles transforms the TBG into a natural plasmon photonic crystal for propagating nano-light. This discovery points to a pathway for controlling nano-light by exploiting quantum properties of graphene and other atomically layered van der Waals materials, eliminating the need for arduous top-down nanofabrication.

Salmonella persisters undermine host immune defenses during antibiotic treatment

Jue, 12/06/2018 - 12:38

Many bacterial infections are hard to treat and tend to relapse, possibly due to the presence of antibiotic-tolerant persisters. In vitro, persister cells appear to be dormant. After uptake of Salmonella species by macrophages, nongrowing persisters also occur, but their physiological state is poorly understood. In this work, we show that Salmonella persisters arising during macrophage infection maintain a metabolically active state. Persisters reprogram macrophages by means of effectors secreted by the Salmonella pathogenicity island 2 type 3 secretion system. These effectors dampened proinflammatory innate immune responses and induced anti-inflammatory macrophage polarization. Such reprogramming allowed nongrowing Salmonella cells to survive for extended periods in their host. Persisters undermining host immune defenses might confer an advantage to the pathogen during relapse once antibiotic pressure is relieved.

Quantifying the contribution of recessive coding variation to developmental disorders

Jue, 12/06/2018 - 12:38

We estimated the genome-wide contribution of recessive coding variation in 6040 families from the Deciphering Developmental Disorders study. The proportion of cases attributable to recessive coding variants was 3.6% in patients of European ancestry, compared with 50% explained by de novo coding mutations. It was higher (31%) in patients with Pakistani ancestry, owing to elevated autozygosity. Half of this recessive burden is attributable to known genes. We identified two genes not previously associated with recessive developmental disorders, KDM5B and EIF3F, and functionally validated them with mouse and cellular models. Our results suggest that recessive coding variants account for a small fraction of currently undiagnosed nonconsanguineous individuals, and that the role of noncoding variants, incomplete penetrance, and polygenic mechanisms need further exploration.

A mechanistic classification of clinical phenotypes in neuroblastoma

Jue, 12/06/2018 - 12:38

Neuroblastoma is a pediatric tumor of the sympathetic nervous system. Its clinical course ranges from spontaneous tumor regression to fatal progression. To investigate the molecular features of the divergent tumor subtypes, we performed genome sequencing on 416 pretreatment neuroblastomas and assessed telomere maintenance mechanisms in 208 of these tumors. We found that patients whose tumors lacked telomere maintenance mechanisms had an excellent prognosis, whereas the prognosis of patients whose tumors harbored telomere maintenance mechanisms was substantially worse. Survival rates were lowest for neuroblastoma patients whose tumors harbored telomere maintenance mechanisms in combination with RAS and/or p53 pathway mutations. Spontaneous tumor regression occurred both in the presence and absence of these mutations in patients with telomere maintenance–negative tumors. On the basis of these data, we propose a mechanistic classification of neuroblastoma that may benefit the clinical management of patients.

LZTR1 is a regulator of RAS ubiquitination and signaling

Jue, 12/06/2018 - 12:38

In genetic screens aimed at understanding drug resistance mechanisms in chronic myeloid leukemia cells, inactivation of the cullin 3 adapter protein-encoding leucine zipper-like transcription regulator 1 (LZTR1) gene led to enhanced mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway activity and reduced sensitivity to tyrosine kinase inhibitors. Knockdown of the Drosophila LZTR1 ortholog CG3711 resulted in a Ras-dependent gain-of-function phenotype. Endogenous human LZTR1 associates with the main RAS isoforms. Inactivation of LZTR1 led to decreased ubiquitination and enhanced plasma membrane localization of endogenous KRAS (V-Ki-ras2 Kirsten rat sarcoma viral oncogene homolog). We propose that LZTR1 acts as a conserved regulator of RAS ubiquitination and MAPK pathway activation. Because LZTR1 disease mutations failed to revert loss-of-function phenotypes, our findings provide a molecular rationale for LZTR1 involvement in a variety of inherited and acquired human disorders.

Mutations in LZTR1 drive human disease by dysregulating RAS ubiquitination

Jue, 12/06/2018 - 12:38

The leucine zipper–like transcriptional regulator 1 (LZTR1) protein, an adaptor for cullin 3 (CUL3) ubiquitin ligase complex, is implicated in human disease, yet its mechanism of action remains unknown. We found that Lztr1 haploinsufficiency in mice recapitulates Noonan syndrome phenotypes, whereas LZTR1 loss in Schwann cells drives dedifferentiation and proliferation. By trapping LZTR1 complexes from intact mammalian cells, we identified the guanosine triphosphatase RAS as a substrate for the LZTR1-CUL3 complex. Ubiquitome analysis showed that loss of Lztr1 abrogated Ras ubiquitination at lysine-170. LZTR1-mediated ubiquitination inhibited RAS signaling by attenuating its association with the membrane. Disease-associated LZTR1 mutations disrupted either LZTR1-CUL3 complex formation or its interaction with RAS proteins. RAS regulation by LZTR1-mediated ubiquitination provides an explanation for the role of LZTR1 in human disease.

A DNA methylation reader complex that enhances gene transcription

Jue, 12/06/2018 - 12:38

DNA methylation generally functions as a repressive transcriptional signal, but it is also known to activate gene expression. In either case, the downstream factors remain largely unknown. By using comparative interactomics, we isolated proteins in Arabidopsis thaliana that associate with methylated DNA. Two SU(VAR)3-9 homologs, the transcriptional antisilencing factor SUVH1, and SUVH3, were among the methyl reader candidates. SUVH1 and SUVH3 bound methylated DNA in vitro, were associated with euchromatic methylation in vivo, and formed a complex with two DNAJ domain-containing homologs, DNAJ1 and DNAJ2. Ectopic recruitment of DNAJ1 enhanced gene transcription in plants, yeast, and mammals. Thus, the SUVH proteins bind to methylated DNA and recruit the DNAJ proteins to enhance proximal gene expression, thereby counteracting the repressive effects of transposon insertion near genes.

Viscous control of cellular respiration by membrane lipid composition

Jue, 12/06/2018 - 12:38

Lipid composition determines the physical properties of biological membranes and can vary substantially between and within organisms. We describe a specific role for the viscosity of energy-transducing membranes in cellular respiration. Engineering of fatty acid biosynthesis in Escherichia coli allowed us to titrate inner membrane viscosity across a 10-fold range by controlling the abundance of unsaturated or branched lipids. These fluidizing lipids tightly controlled respiratory metabolism, an effect that can be explained with a quantitative model of the electron transport chain (ETC) that features diffusion-coupled reactions between enzymes and electron carriers (quinones). Lipid unsaturation also modulated mitochondrial respiration in engineered budding yeast strains. Thus, diffusion in the ETC may serve as an evolutionary constraint for lipid composition in respiratory membranes.

New Products

Jue, 12/06/2018 - 12:38

A short guide to working remotely

Jue, 12/06/2018 - 12:38

Temperature-dependent hypoxia explains biogeography and severity of end-Permian marine mass extinction

Jue, 12/06/2018 - 12:38

Rapid climate change at the end of the Permian Period (~252 million years ago) is the hypothesized trigger for the largest mass extinction in Earth’s history. We present model simulations of the Permian/Triassic climate transition that reproduce the ocean warming and oxygen (O2) loss indicated by the geologic record. The effect of these changes on animal survival is evaluated using the Metabolic Index (), a measure of scope for aerobic activity governed by organismal traits sampled in diverse modern species. Modeled loss of aerobic habitat predicts lower extinction intensity in the tropics, a pattern confirmed with a spatially explicit analysis of the marine fossil record. The combined physiological stresses of ocean warming and O2 loss can account for more than half the magnitude of the "Great Dying."

Early human dispersals within the Americas

Jue, 12/06/2018 - 12:38

Studies of the peopling of the Americas have focused on the timing and number of initial migrations. Less attention has been paid to the subsequent spread of people within the Americas. We sequenced 15 ancient human genomes spanning from Alaska to Patagonia; six are ≥10,000 years old (up to ~18x coverage). All are most closely related to Native Americans, including those from an Ancient Beringian individual and two morphologically distinct "Paleoamericans." We found evidence of rapid dispersal and early diversification that included previously unknown groups as people moved south. This resulted in multiple independent, geographically uneven migrations, including one that provides clues of a Late Pleistocene Australasian genetic signal, as well as a later Mesoamerican-related expansion. These led to complex and dynamic population histories from North to South America.

Animals and the zoogeochemistry of the carbon cycle

Jue, 12/06/2018 - 12:38

Predicting and managing the global carbon cycle requires scientific understanding of ecosystem processes that control carbon uptake and storage. It is generally assumed that carbon cycling is sufficiently characterized in terms of uptake and exchange between ecosystem plant and soil pools and the atmosphere. We show that animals also play an important role by mediating carbon exchange between ecosystems and the atmosphere, at times turning ecosystem carbon sources into sinks, or vice versa. Animals also move across landscapes, creating a dynamism that shapes landscape-scale variation in carbon exchange and storage. Predicting and measuring carbon cycling under such dynamism is an important scientific challenge. We explain how to link analyses of spatial ecosystem functioning, animal movement, and remote sensing of animal habitats with carbon dynamics across landscapes.

Open-source discovery of chemical leads for next-generation chemoprotective antimalarials

Jue, 12/06/2018 - 12:38

To discover leads for next-generation chemoprotective antimalarial drugs, we tested more than 500,000 compounds for their ability to inhibit liver-stage development of luciferase-expressing Plasmodium spp. parasites (681 compounds showed a half-maximal inhibitory concentration of less than 1 micromolar). Cluster analysis identified potent and previously unreported scaffold families as well as other series previously associated with chemoprophylaxis. Further testing through multiple phenotypic assays that predict stage-specific and multispecies antimalarial activity distinguished compound classes that are likely to provide symptomatic relief by reducing asexual blood-stage parasitemia from those which are likely to only prevent malaria. Target identification by using functional assays, in vitro evolution, or metabolic profiling revealed 58 mitochondrial inhibitors but also many chemotypes possibly with previously unidentified mechanisms of action.

Chess, a Drosophila of reasoning

Jue, 12/06/2018 - 12:38

News at a glance

Jue, 12/06/2018 - 12:38

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