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ScienceNOW Daily News Feed - Jue, 04/20/2017 - 11:27

Greater role for Atlantic inflows on sea-ice loss in the Eurasian Basin of the Arctic Ocean

ScienceNOW Daily News Feed - Jue, 04/20/2017 - 11:27

Arctic sea-ice loss is a leading indicator of climate change and can be attributed, in large part, to atmospheric forcing. Here, we show that recent ice reductions, weakening of the halocline, and shoaling of the intermediate-depth Atlantic Water layer in the eastern Eurasian Basin have increased winter ventilation in the ocean interior, making this region structurally similar to that of the western Eurasian Basin. The associated enhanced release of oceanic heat has reduced winter sea-ice formation at a rate now comparable to losses from atmospheric thermodynamic forcing, thus explaining the recent reduction in sea-ice cover in the eastern Eurasian Basin. This encroaching "atlantification" of the Eurasian Basin represents an essential step toward a new Arctic climate state, with a substantially greater role for Atlantic inflows.

iPTF16geu: A multiply imaged, gravitationally lensed type Ia supernova

ScienceNOW Daily News Feed - Jue, 04/20/2017 - 11:27

We report the discovery of a multiply imaged, gravitationally lensed type Ia supernova, iPTF16geu (SN 2016geu), at redshift z = 0.409. This phenomenon was identified because the light from the stellar explosion was magnified more than 50 times by the curvature of space around matter in an intervening galaxy. We used high-spatial-resolution observations to resolve four images of the lensed supernova, approximately 0.3 arc seconds from the center of the foreground galaxy. The observations probe a physical scale of ~1 kiloparsec, smaller than is typical in other studies of extragalactic gravitational lensing. The large magnification and symmetric image configuration imply close alignment between the lines of sight to the supernova and to the lens. The relative magnifications of the four images provide evidence for substructures in the lensing galaxy.

A parity-breaking electronic nematic phase transition in the spin-orbit coupled metal Cd2Re2O7

ScienceNOW Daily News Feed - Jue, 04/20/2017 - 11:27

Strong electron interactions can drive metallic systems toward a variety of well-known symmetry-broken phases, but the instabilities of correlated metals with strong spin-orbit coupling have only recently begun to be explored. We uncovered a multipolar nematic phase of matter in the metallic pyrochlore Cd2Re2O7 using spatially resolved second-harmonic optical anisotropy measurements. Like previously discovered electronic nematic phases, this multipolar phase spontaneously breaks rotational symmetry while preserving translational invariance. However, it has the distinguishing property of being odd under spatial inversion, which is allowed only in the presence of spin-orbit coupling. By examining the critical behavior of the multipolar nematic order parameter, we show that it drives the thermal phase transition near 200 kelvin in Cd2Re2O7 and induces a parity-breaking lattice distortion as a secondary order.

Low-temperature activation of methane on the IrO2(110) surface

ScienceNOW Daily News Feed - Jue, 04/20/2017 - 11:27

Methane undergoes highly facile C–H bond cleavage on the stoichiometric IrO2(110) surface. From temperature-programmed reaction spectroscopy experiments, we found that methane molecularly adsorbed as a strongly bound complex on IrO2(110) and that a large fraction of the adsorbed complexes underwent C–H bond cleavage at temperatures as low as 150 kelvin (K). The initial dissociation probability of methane on IrO2(110) decreased from 80 to 20% with increasing surface temperature from 175 to 300 K. We estimate that the activation energy for methane C–H bond cleavage is 9.5 kilojoule per mole (kJ/mol) lower than the binding energy of the adsorbed precursor on IrO2(110), and equal to a value of ~28.5 kJ/mol. Low-temperature activation may avoid unwanted side reactions in the development of catalytic processes to selectively convert methane to value-added products.

Quantitative 3D evolution of colloidal nanoparticle oxidation in solution

ScienceNOW Daily News Feed - Jue, 04/20/2017 - 11:27

Real-time tracking of the three-dimensional (3D) evolution of colloidal nanoparticles in solution is essential for understanding complex mechanisms involved in nanoparticle growth and transformation. We used time-resolved small-angle and wide-angle x-ray scattering simultaneously to monitor oxidation of highly uniform colloidal iron nanoparticles, enabling the reconstruction of intermediate 3D morphologies of the nanoparticles with a spatial resolution of ~5 angstroms. The in situ observations, combined with large-scale reactive molecular dynamics simulations, reveal the details of the transformation from solid metal nanoparticles to hollow metal oxide nanoshells via a nanoscale Kirkendall process—for example, coalescence of voids as they grow and reversal of mass diffusion direction depending on crystallinity. Our results highlight the complex interplay between defect chemistry and defect dynamics in determining nanoparticle transformation and formation.

Fructose-driven glycolysis supports anoxia resistance in the naked mole-rat

ScienceNOW Daily News Feed - Jue, 04/20/2017 - 11:27

The African naked mole-rat’s (Heterocephalus glaber) social and subterranean lifestyle generates a hypoxic niche. Under experimental conditions, naked mole-rats tolerate hours of extreme hypoxia and survive 18 minutes of total oxygen deprivation (anoxia) without apparent injury. During anoxia, the naked mole-rat switches to anaerobic metabolism fueled by fructose, which is actively accumulated and metabolized to lactate in the brain. Global expression of the GLUT5 fructose transporter and high levels of ketohexokinase were identified as molecular signatures of fructose metabolism. Fructose-driven glycolytic respiration in naked mole-rat tissues avoids feedback inhibition of glycolysis via phosphofructokinase, supporting viability. The metabolic rewiring of glycolysis can circumvent the normally lethal effects of oxygen deprivation, a mechanism that could be harnessed to minimize hypoxic damage in human disease.

Biased partitioning of the multidrug efflux pump AcrAB-TolC underlies long-lived phenotypic heterogeneity

ScienceNOW Daily News Feed - Jue, 04/20/2017 - 11:27

The molecular mechanisms underlying phenotypic variation in isogenic bacterial populations remain poorly understood. We report that AcrAB-TolC, the main multidrug efflux pump of Escherichia coli, exhibits a strong partitioning bias for old cell poles by a segregation mechanism that is mediated by ternary AcrAB-TolC complex formation. Mother cells inheriting old poles are phenotypically distinct and display increased drug efflux activity relative to daughters. Consequently, we find systematic and long-lived growth differences between mother and daughter cells in the presence of subinhibitory drug concentrations. A simple model for biased partitioning predicts a population structure of long-lived and highly heterogeneous phenotypes. This straightforward mechanism of generating sustained growth rate differences at subinhibitory antibiotic concentrations has implications for understanding the emergence of multidrug resistance in bacteria.

Neonatal acquisition of Clostridia species protects against colonization by bacterial pathogens

ScienceNOW Daily News Feed - Jue, 04/20/2017 - 11:27

The high susceptibility of neonates to infections has been assumed to be due to immaturity of the immune system, but the mechanism remains unclear. By colonizing adult germ-free mice with the cecal contents of neonatal and adult mice, we show that the neonatal microbiota is unable to prevent colonization by two bacterial pathogens that cause mortality in neonates. The lack of colonization resistance occurred when Clostridiales were absent in the neonatal microbiota. Administration of Clostridiales, but not Bacteroidales, protected neonatal mice from pathogen infection and abrogated intestinal pathology upon pathogen challenge. Depletion of Clostridiales also abolished colonization resistance in adult mice. The neonatal bacteria enhanced the ability of protective Clostridiales to colonize the gut.

Transgenerational transmission of environmental information in C. elegans

ScienceNOW Daily News Feed - Jue, 04/20/2017 - 11:27

The environment experienced by an animal can sometimes influence gene expression for one or a few subsequent generations. Here, we report the observation that a temperature-induced change in expression from a Caenorhabditis elegans heterochromatic gene array can endure for at least 14 generations. Inheritance is primarily in cis with the locus, occurs through both oocytes and sperm, and is associated with altered trimethylation of histone H3 lysine 9 (H3K9me3) before the onset of zygotic transcription. Expression profiling reveals that temperature-induced expression from endogenous repressed repeats can also be inherited for multiple generations. Long-lasting epigenetic memory of environmental change is therefore possible in this animal.

Control of muscle formation by the fusogenic micropeptide myomixer

ScienceNOW Daily News Feed - Jue, 04/20/2017 - 11:27

Skeletal muscle formation occurs through fusion of myoblasts to form multinucleated myofibers. From a genome-wide clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) loss-of-function screen for genes required for myoblast fusion and myogenesis, we discovered an 84–amino acid muscle-specific peptide that we call Myomixer. Myomixer expression coincides with myoblast differentiation and is essential for fusion and skeletal muscle formation during embryogenesis. Myomixer localizes to the plasma membrane, where it promotes myoblast fusion and associates with Myomaker, a fusogenic membrane protein. Myomixer together with Myomaker can also induce fibroblast-fibroblast fusion and fibroblast-myoblast fusion. We conclude that the Myomixer-Myomaker pair controls the critical step in myofiber formation during muscle development.

Microtubules acquire resistance from mechanical breakage through intralumenal acetylation

ScienceNOW Daily News Feed - Jue, 04/20/2017 - 11:27

Eukaryotic cells rely on long-lived microtubules for intracellular transport and as compression-bearing elements. We considered that long-lived microtubules are acetylated inside their lumen and that microtubule acetylation may modify microtubule mechanics. Here, we found that tubulin acetylation is required for the mechanical stabilization of long-lived microtubules in cells. Depletion of the tubulin acetyltransferase TAT1 led to a significant increase in the frequency of microtubule breakage. Nocodazole-resistant microtubules lost upon removal of acetylation were largely restored by either pharmacological or physical removal of compressive forces. In in vitro reconstitution experiments, acetylation was sufficient to protect microtubules from mechanical breakage. Thus, acetylation increases mechanical resilience to ensure the persistence of long-lived microtubules.

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ScienceNOW Daily News Feed - Jue, 04/20/2017 - 11:27

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