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1 Rapid sea level rise in the aftermath of a Neoproterozoic snowball Earth 2018-04-20             

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Earth’s most severe climate changes occurred during global-scale snowball-Earth glaciations, which profoundly altered Earth’s atmosphere, oceans, and biosphere. Extreme rates of glacio-eustatic sea-level rise are a fundamental prediction of the snowball Earth hypothesis, but supporting geologic evidence is lacking. We use paleohydraulic analysis of wave ripples and tidal laminae of the Elatina Formation, Australia — deposited following the Marinoan glaciation ca. 635Ma — to show that water depths of 9–16m remained nearly constant for ~100yrs throughout 27m of sediment accumulation. This accumulation rate was too great to have been accommodated by subsidence, and instead indicates an extraordinarily rapid rate of sea-level rise (0.2–0.27m/yr). Our results substantiate a fundamental prediction of snowball Earth models of rapid deglaciation during the early transition to a super-greenhouse climate.

2 Cell type atlas and lineage tree of a whole complex animal by single-cell transcriptomics 2018-04-20             

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Flatworms of the species Schmidtea mediterranea are immortal—adult animals contain a large pool of pluripotent stem cells that continuously differentiate to all adult cell types. Therefore, single-cell transcriptome profiling of adult animals should reveal mature and progenitor cells. By combining perturbation experiments, gene expression analysis, a computational method that predicts future cell states from the transcriptional changes, and a lineage reconstruction method, we placed all major cell types onto a single lineage tree that connects all cells to a single stem cell compartment. We characterize gene expression changes during differentiation and discover cell types important for regeneration. Our results demonstrate the importance of single-cell transcriptome analysis for mapping and reconstructing fundamental processes of developmental and regenerative biology at high resolution.

3 Cell type transcriptome atlas for the planarian Schmidtea mediterranea 2018-04-20             

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The transcriptome of a cell dictates its unique cell-type biology. We used single-cell RNA sequencing to determine the transcriptomes for essentially every cell type of a complete animal: the regenerative planarian Schmidtea mediterranea. Planarians contain a diverse array of cell types, possess lineage progenitors for differentiated cells (including pluripotent stem cells), and constitutively express positional information, making them ideal for this undertaking. We generated data for 66,783 cells, defining transcriptomes for known and many previously unknown planarian cell types and for putative transition states between stem and differentiated cells. We also uncovered regionally expressed genes in muscle, which harbors positional information. Identifying the transcriptomes for potentially all cell types for many organisms should be readily attainable and is a powerful new approach to metazoan biology.

4 Natural selection interacts with recombination to shape the evolution of hybrid genomes 2018-04-20             

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To investigate the consequences of hybridization between species, we studied three replicate hybrid populations that formed naturally between two swordtail fish species, estimating their fine-scale genetic map and inferring ancestry along the genomes of 690 individuals. In all three populations, ancestry from the "minor" parental species is more common in regions of high recombination and where there is linkage to fewer putative targets of selection. The same patterns are apparent in a reanalysis of human and archaic admixture. These results support models in which ancestry from the minor parental species is more likely to persist when rapidly uncoupled from alleles that are deleterious in hybrids. Our analyses further indicate that selection on swordtail hybrids stems predominantly from deleterious combinations of epistatically interacting alleles.

5 Flexo-photovoltaic effect 2018-04-20             

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It is highly desirable to discover photovoltaic mechanisms that enable a higher efficiency of solar cells. Here, we report that the bulk photovoltaic effect, which is free from the thermodynamic Shockley-Queisser limit but usually manifested only in noncentrosymmetric (piezoelectric or ferroelectric) materials, can be realized in any semiconductor, including silicon, by mediation of flexoelectric effect. We introduce strain gradients using either an atomic force microscope or a micron-scale indentation system, creating giant photovoltaic currents from centrosymmetric single crystals of SrTiO3, TiO2, and Si. This strain-gradient-induced bulk photovoltaic effect, which we call the flexo-photovoltaic effect, functions in the absence of a p-n junction. This finding may extend present solar cell technologies by boosting the solar energy conversion efficiency from a wide pool of established semiconductors.

6 High-resolution cryo-EM analysis of the yeast ATP synthase in a lipid membrane 2018-04-14             

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Mitochondrial ATP synthase comprises a membrane embedded Fo motor that rotates to drive ATP synthesis in the F1 subunit. We used single-particle cryo-EM to obtain structures of the full complex in a lipid bilayer in the absence or presence of the inhibitor oligomycin, at 3.6 Å and 3.8 Å resolution, respectively. To limit conformational heterogeneity, we locked the rotor in a single conformation by fusing the F6 subunit of the stator with the -subunit of the rotor. Assembly of the enzyme with the F6- fusion caused a twisting of the rotor and a 9° rotation of the Fo c10-ring in the direction of ATP synthesis, relative to the structure of isolated Fo. Our cryo-EM structures show how F1 and Fo are coupled, give insight into the proton translocation pathway and show how oligomycin blocks ATP synthesis.

7 Building one molecule from a reservoir of two atoms 2018-04-14             

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Chemical reactions typically proceed via stochastic encounters between reactants. Going beyond this paradigm, we combine exactly two atoms into a single, controlled reaction. The experimental apparatus traps two individual laser-cooled atoms (one sodium and one cesium) in separate optical tweezers and then merges them into one optical dipole trap. Subsequently, photo-association forms an excited-state NaCs molecule. The discovery of previously unseen resonances near the molecular dissociation threshold and measurement of collision rates are enabled by the tightly trapped ultracold sample of atoms. As laser-cooling and trapping capabilities are extended to more elements, the technique will enable the study of more diverse, and eventually more complex, molecules in an isolated environment, as well as synthesis of designer molecules for qubits.

8 RNA buffers the phase separation behavior of prion-like RNA binding proteins 2018-04-14             

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Prion-like RNA binding proteins (RBPs) such as TDP-43 or FUS are largely soluble in the nucleus, but form solid pathological aggregates when mislocalized to the cytoplasm. What keeps these proteins soluble in the nucleus and promotes aggregation in the cytoplasm is still unknown. We report here that RNA critically regulates the phase behavior of prion-like RBPs. Low RNA/protein ratios promote phase separation into liquid droplets, whereas high ratios prevent droplet formation in vitro. Reduction of nuclear RNA levels or genetic ablation of RNA binding causes excessive phase separation and the formation of cytotoxic solid-like assemblies in cells. We propose that the nucleus is a buffered system in which high RNA concentrations keep RBPs soluble. Changes in RNA levels or RNA binding abilities of RBPs cause aberrant phase transitions.

9 MRNA structure determines specificity of a polyQ-driven phase separation 2018-04-14             

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RNA promotes liquid-liquid phase separation (LLPS) to build membraneless compartments in cells. How distinct molecular compositions are established and maintained in these liquid compartments is unknown. Here, we report that secondary structure allows mRNAs to self-associate and determines whether an mRNA is recruited to or excluded from liquid compartments. The polyQ-protein Whi3 induces conformational changes in RNA structure and generates distinct molecular fluctuations depending on the RNA sequence. These data support a model in which structure-based, RNA-RNA interactions promote assembly of distinct droplets and protein-driven, conformational dynamics of the RNA maintain this identity. Thus, the shape of RNA can promote the formation and coexistence of the diverse array of RNA-rich liquid compartments found in a single cell.

10 Elastic strain engineering for ultralow mechanical dissipation 2018-04-14             

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Extreme stresses can be produced in nanoscale structures, a feature which has been used to realize enhanced materials properties, such as the high mobility of silicon in modern transistors. Here we show how nanoscale stress can be used to realize exceptionally low mechanical dissipation, when combined with "soft-clamping" — a form of phononic engineering. Specifically, using a non-uniform phononic crystal pattern, we colocalize the strain and flexural motion of a free-standing Si3N4 nanobeam. Ringdown measurements at room temperature reveal string-like modes with quality (Q) factors as high as 800 million and Q x frequency exceeding 1015 Hz. These results illustrate a promising route for engineering ultra-coherent nanomechanical devices.

 
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