A growing proportion of the public in Western democracies deny anthropogenic climate change, and experts assume that climate deniers need to be ‘converted’ to get them acting in support of mitigation policy. A study in Nature Climate Change this week questions such common assumptions.
This press release contains:
---Summaries of newsworthy papers:
Medicine: The good side of cholesterol
Climate Change: Motivating climate change deniers
Chemical Biology: May contain phenylalanine
Immunology: Membrane fusion has a STING
And finally…Nature: Grasping the circuits for hand dexterity in primates
---Geographical listing of authors
 Medicine: The good side of cholesterol
A cholesterol-enriched diet can ameliorate disease in a mouse model of Pelizaeus-Merzbacher disease (PMD), reports a study published this week in Nature Medicine. The findings suggest a potential dietary treatment for individuals with this neurological disease caused by the loss of the protective myelin sheath around neuronal axons.
PMD occurs due to the duplication of a gene called proteolipid protein gene 1, which leads to overexpression of the myelin protein PLP. This overexpressed protein becomes stuck inside the cells, unable to move to the membrane of oligodendrocyte brain cells where it is needed for the proper myelin ensheathment of axons.
Gesine Saher, Klaus Nave and colleagues added cholesterol to oligodendrocyte cells from mice with overexpressed PLP. They found that this led to an increase in PLP trafficking to the cell membrane. They authors also showed that feeding the mice a high-cholesterol diet increased the amount of myelin in their brains and prevented disease progression in the mice.
Gesine Saher (Max Planck Institute of Experimental Medicine, Göttingen, Germany)
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Klaus Nave (Max Planck Institute of Experimental Medicine, Göttingen, Germany)
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 Climate Change: Motivating climate change deniers
Framing climate change mitigation efforts in terms of their positive societal effects can encourage deniers to act pro-environmentally, reports research in Nature Climate Change this week. A growing proportion of the public in Western democracies deny anthropogenic climate change, and experts assume that climate deniers need to be ‘converted’ to get them acting in support of mitigation policy. This study questions such common assumption.
Paul Bain and colleagues conducted two studies, based on data collected in Australia in May–July 2011 and February 2012 respectively. In the first study they measured the relationships between beliefs about the social consequences of climate change action and pro-environmental intentions. They found that 155 climate deniers intended to act more pro-environmentally where they thought climate change action would create a society where people are more considerate and caring (Warmth frame), and where there is greater economic/technological development (Development frame). In the second study they examined whether framing climate change action in terms of increasing interpersonal warmth and societal development may be a more effective approach than focusing on the risks of climate change (Real frame) to motivate deniers’ action. In a nationally representative sample of 347 people, they found that using Warmth and Development frames bridged one-third of the gap in pro-environmental intentions between deniers presented with a Real frame and the average of believers.
Paul Bain (University of Queensland, St Lucia, Australia)
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Paul Stern (National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DC, USA) N&V author
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 Chemical Biology: May contain phenylalanine
Phenylketonuria (PKU), a metabolic disease marked by the accumulation of the amino acid phenylalanine, has hallmark features of amyloid disease including a buildup of toxic fibrils, reports a study published online this week in Nature Chemical Biology.
In PKU, accumulation of phenylalanine has been thought to be neurotoxic, but the mechanism of toxicity had not been determined. Because of this toxicity, patients with the disease must carefully control phenylalanine intake. In Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and other amyloid diseases marked by formation of protein fibril aggregates, aromatic amino acids such as phenylalanine are known to be important for acceleration of the amyloid assembly process. Specifically, two adjacent phenylalanine residues in the amyloid beta protein seem to mediate the intermolecular interaction between polypeptide chains required for fibril aggregate assembly seen in AD.
Ehud Gazit and colleagues now make a direct connection between the two diseases by demonstrating that phenylalanine alone can form toxic fibrils. Phenylalanine, at concentrations that exist in PKU, self-assembles into amyloid-like fibrils. A mouse model of PKU expressed antibodies against phenylalanine fibrils, presumably as a consequence of the disease, as they were not found in non-diseased mice. The brains of the diseased mice contained plaques, the hallmark of amyloid diseases. These results provide a greater molecular understanding of PKU and suggest that treatments aimed at the classical amyloid diseases might prove useful for PKU as well.
Ehud Gazit (Tel Aviv University, Israel)
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 Immunology: Membrane fusion has a STING
Clues about how the immune system detects membrane fusion, the earliest event when a virus infects a cell, are reported in a mouse study published in Nature Immunology.
Søren Paludan and colleagues found that cells exposed to virus-like particles (VLPs) or artificially created liposomes lacking any genetic material or known stimulatory molecules could still elicit a robust immune response in mice in vitro and in vivo. Although unable to trigger any conventional pathogen recognition pathways, these agents are able to fuse with cell membranes. Recognition of membrane fusion seemed to be exclusively dependent on STING – an intracellular molecule more commonly associated with responding to pathogen-derived DNA material. Although membrane fusion could elicit an immune response on its own, it could also synergize with other immune-stimulatory signals and may therefore represent a generalized and important first step in pathogen recognition.
Dr Søren Paludan (Aarhus University, Denmark)
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 And finally…Nature: Grasping the circuits for hand dexterity in primates
The critical role of a specific neuronal pathway involved in the control of dexterity is revealed in Nature this week. The researchers use a gene transfer technique to reversibly inactivate a targeted population of spinal nerve cells in monkeys, and demonstrate that inactivation of these cells temporarily impairs reach and grasp movements. The approach might represent a powerful tool for dissecting circuit function in primates.
Direct connections between the motor cortex, a region of the brain that controls movement, and neurons in the spine are thought to be the primary basis for dexterous hand movements in primates. Tadashi Isa and colleagues now also establish a role for a conserved, ‘older’ indirect pathway involving cells called propriospinal neurons in hand dexterity in higher primates. They infected macaque monkeys with two viral vectors to transfer genes that could selectively and reversibly deactivate the propriospinal neurons. This treatment disrupted reach and grasp, which suggests that the propriospinal neuron-pathway is required for the control of hand dexterity.
The authors note that their approach may be a useful tool for studying specific pathways and cell populations in primates where techniques for selectively manipulating the activity of certain cell populations and making transgenic animals are difficult, compared to other species such as rats and mice.
Tadashi Isa (National Institute for Physiological Sciences, Okazaki, Japan)
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 Rsx is a metatherian RNA with Xist-like properties in X-chromosome inactivation
 Heterogeneous pathways and timing of factor departure during translation initiation
NATURE CELL BIOLOGY
 USP4 is regulated by Akt phosphorylation and directly deubiquitinates TGF-beta type I receptor
NATURE CHEMICAL BIOLOGY
 Lys34 of translation elongation factor EF-P is hydroxylated by YfcM
 Controlled homocatenation of boron on a transition metal
NATURE CLIMATE CHANGE
 A potential loss of carbon associated with greater plant growth in the European Arctic
 Bridging the greenhouse-gas emissions gap
 Australia’s carbon price
 Science and the governance of Australia’s climate regime
 Genome-wide efficient mixed-model analysis for association studies
 An efficient multi-locus mixed-model approach for genome-wide association studies in structured populations
 Hydrologic cycling over Antarctica during the middle Miocene warming
 The Ets transcription factor Spi-B is essential for the differentiation of intestinal microfold cells
 Spin-current-driven thermoelectric coating
 Hepatitis B virus–induced lipid alterations contribute to natural killer T cell–dependent protective immunity
 A protease for ‘middle-down’ proteomics
 ViBE-Z: a framework for 3D virtual colocalization analysis in zebrafish larval brains
 Magnetoferritin nanoparticles for targeting and visualizing tumour tissues
 Dispersion forces between ultracold atoms and a carbon nanotube
 Valley polarization in MoS2 monolayers by optical pumping
 Control of valley polarization in monolayer MoS2 by optical helicity
 Distinct molecular pathways mediate glial activation and engulfment of axonal debris after axotomy
 Pattern and not magnitude of neural activity determines dendritic spine stability in awake mice
 Segmentation of spatial experience by hippocampal theta sequences
 Drosha regulates neurogenesis by controlling Neurogenin 2 expression independent of microRNAs
 A mechanism for value-guided choice based on the excitation-inhibition balance in prefrontal cortex
 Density functional theory for atomic Fermi gases
Nature STRUCTURAL & MOLECULAR BIOLOGY
 Structure of Mre11–Nbs1 complex yields insights into ataxia-telangiectasia–like disease mutations and DNA damage signaling
 Large-scale mapping of branchpoints in human pre-mRNA transcripts in vivo
 Structural basis of evasion of cellular adaptive immunity by HIV-1 Nef
 Structural basis for heteromeric assembly and perinuclear organization of keratin filaments
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The following list of places refers to the whereabouts of authors on the papers numbered in this release. The listing may be for an author's main affiliation, or for a place where they are working temporarily. Please see the PDF of the paper for full details.
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Tokyo: 5, 19
Zurich: 3, 32
Cambridge: 20, 33
Edinburgh: 9, 11
Glasgow: 4, 11
London: 6, 31
Sheffield: 11, 30
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
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Los Angeles: 16, 17, 28
Menlo Park: 7
Palo Alto: 7
San Diego: 35
San Francisco: 20
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Baton Rouge: 17
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Worcester: 4, 27
New York: 26, 30
Oak Ridge: 25
San Antonio: 6
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