Science current issue 
  • Modeling, post COVID-19 
  • News at a glance 
  • Arecibo radio telescope to be decommissioned 
  • Laser fusion reactor approaches 'burning plasma milestone 
  • Study homes in on 'exceptional responders to cancer drugs 
  • Potential signs of life on Venus are fading fast 
  • Public needs to prep for vaccine side effects 
  • Grade: incomplete 
  • Guiding lights 
  • Surplus and stress control autumn timing 
  • Witnessing ice habitat collapse in the Arctic 
  • Crisis and catharsis in atomic physics 
  • Engineering cytokines and cytokine circuits 
  • Staying connected under tension 
  • Tree rings circle an abrupt shift in climate 
  • Sequencing perturbed cortex development 
  • Protecting consumers from collusive prices due to AI 
  • Learning to think long-term 
  • Purse strings, patients, and personal glory 
  • What Would Nature Do? A Guide for Our Uncertain Times 
  • U.S. space policy: Multilateral mining 
  • U.S. space policy: An international model 
  • U.S. space policy: An international model--Response 
  • 2020 AAAS Fellows approved by the AAAS Council 
  • A dangerous trend 
  • Quality control in mitochondria 
  • When all routes are exceptional 
  • Driving the pores away 
  • A logic to cell-cell recognition 
  • Paternal factor specifies female wasps 
  • Deep dive 
  • Helping asthmatics breathe better 
  • Engineering immune responses 
  • Understanding what drives proteins 
  • An in vivo analysis of autism risk genes 
  • Profiling coronaviruses 
  • Dephosphorylating RNA polymerase II 
  • Tension where multiple cells meet 
  • Testing physics using the hydrogen atom 
  • Limits to the growing season 
  • Roaming dynamics in real time 
  • Survival of the most variable 
  • Structure of a vaccine candidate 
  • A beneficial cocktail 
  • Regulatory IgA response 
  • Understanding protein trafficking defects 
  • Missing freshwater found off Hawai'i 
  • Photosynthesis and the Dust Bowl 
  • Preaching outside of the choir 
  • PORE-cupine for RNA structures 
  • How a brain controls a computer 
  • Kinetic control of hierarchical growth 
  • Weighing in on chronic kidney disease 
  • Too hot for helium to handle 
  • Two-photon frequency comb spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen 

    We have performed two-photon ultraviolet direct frequency comb spectroscopy on the 1S-3S transition in atomic hydrogen to illuminate the so-called proton radius puzzle and to demonstrate the potential of this method. The proton radius puzzle is a significant discrepancy between data obtained with muonic hydrogen and regular atomic hydrogen that could not be explained within the framework of quantum electrodynamics. By combining our result [f1S-3S = 2,922,743,278,665.79(72) kilohertz] with a previous measurement of the 1S-2S transition frequency, we obtained new values for the Rydberg constant [R = 10,973,731.568226(38) per meter] and the proton charge radius [rp = 0.8482(38) femtometers]. This result favors the muonic value over the world-average data as presented by the most recent published CODATA 2014 adjustment.

  • Increased growing-season productivity drives earlier autumn leaf senescence in temperate trees 

    Changes in the growing-season lengths of temperate trees greatly affect biotic interactions and global carbon balance. Yet future growing-season trajectories remain highly uncertain because the environmental drivers of autumn leaf senescence are poorly understood. Using experiments and long-term observations, we show that increases in spring and summer productivity due to elevated carbon dioxide, temperature, or light levels drive earlier senescence. Accounting for this effect improved the accuracy of senescence predictions by 27 to 42% and reversed future predictions from a previously expected 2- to 3-week delay over the rest of the century to an advance of 3 to 6 days. These findings demonstrate the critical role of sink limitation in governing the end of seasonal activity and reveal important constraints on future growing-season lengths and carbon uptake of trees.

  • Capturing roaming molecular fragments in real time 

    Since the discovery of roaming as an alternative molecular dissociation pathway in formaldehyde (H2CO), it has been indirectly observed in numerous molecules. The phenomenon describes a frustrated dissociation with fragments roaming at relatively large interatomic distances rather than following conventional transition-state dissociation; incipient radicals from the parent molecule self-react to form molecular products. Roaming has been identified spectroscopically through static product channel–resolved measurements, but not in real-time observations of the roaming fragment itself. Using time-resolved Coulomb explosion imaging (CEI), we directly imaged individual "roamers" on ultrafast time scales in the prototypical formaldehyde dissociation reaction. Using high-level first-principles simulations of all critical experimental steps, distinctive roaming signatures were identified. These were rendered observable by extracting rare stochastic events out of an overwhelming background using the highly sensitive CEI method.

  • Exceptional nexus with a hybrid topological invariant 

    Branch-point singularities known as exceptional points (EPs), which carry a nonzero topological charge, can emerge in non-Hermitian systems. We demonstrate with both theory and acoustic experiments an "exceptional nexus" (EX), which is not only a higher-order EP but also the cusp singularity of multiple exceptional arcs (EAs). Because the parameter space is segmented by the EAs, the EX possesses a hybrid topological invariant (HTI), which consists of distinct winding numbers associated with Berry phases accumulated by cyclic paths on different complex planes. The HTI is experimentally characterized by measuring the critical behaviors of the wave functions. Our findings constitute a major advance in the fundamental understanding of non-Hermitian systems and their topology, possibly opening new avenues for applications.

  • Critical instability at moving keyhole tip generates porosity in laser melting 

    Laser powder bed fusion is a dominant metal 3D printing technology. However, porosity defects remain a challenge for fatigue-sensitive applications. Some porosity is associated with deep and narrow vapor depressions called keyholes, which occur under high-power, low–scan speed laser melting conditions. High-speed x-ray imaging enables operando observation of the detailed formation process of pores in Ti-6Al-4V caused by a critical instability at the keyhole tip. We found that the boundary of the keyhole porosity regime in power-velocity space is sharp and smooth, varying only slightly between the bare plate and powder bed. The critical keyhole instability generates acoustic waves in the melt pool that provide additional yet vital driving force for the pores near the keyhole tip to move away from the keyhole and become trapped as defects.

  • Individual heterozygosity predicts translocation success in threatened desert tortoises 

    Anthropogenic environmental modification is placing as many as 1 million species at risk of extinction. One management action for reducing extinction risk is translocation of individuals to locations from which they have disappeared or to new locations where biologists hypothesize they have a good chance of surviving. To maximize this survival probability, the standard practice is to move animals from the closest possible populations that contain presumably related individuals. In an empirical test of this conventional wisdom, we analyzed a genomic dataset for 166 translocated desert tortoises (Gopherus agassizii) that either survived or died over a period of two decades. We used genomic data to infer the geographic origin of translocated tortoises and found that individual heterozygosity predicted tortoise survival, whereas translocation distance or geographic unit of origin did not. Our results suggest a relatively simple indicator of the likelihood of a translocated individual’s survival: heterozygosity.

  • Structural analysis of full-length SARS-CoV-2 spike protein from an advanced vaccine candidate 

    Vaccine efforts to combat the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), which is responsible for the current coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, are focused on SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein, the primary target for neutralizing antibodies. We performed cryo–election microscopy and site-specific glycan analysis of one of the leading subunit vaccine candidates from Novavax, which is based on a full-length spike protein formulated in polysorbate 80 detergent. Our studies reveal a stable prefusion conformation of the spike immunogen with slight differences in the S1 subunit compared with published spike ectodomain structures. We also observed interactions between the spike trimers, allowing formation of higher-order spike complexes. This study confirms the structural integrity of the full-length spike protein immunogen and provides a basis for interpreting immune responses to this multivalent nanoparticle immunogen.

  • Abrupt shift to hotter and drier climate over inner East Asia beyond the tipping point 

    Unprecedented heatwave-drought concurrences in the past two decades have been reported over inner East Asia. Tree-ring–based reconstructions of heatwaves and soil moisture for the past 260 years reveal an abrupt shift to hotter and drier climate over this region. Enhanced land-atmosphere coupling, associated with persistent soil moisture deficit, appears to intensify surface warming and anticyclonic circulation anomalies, fueling heatwaves that exacerbate soil drying. Our analysis demonstrates that the magnitude of the warm and dry anomalies compounding in the recent two decades is unprecedented over the quarter of a millennium, and this trend clearly exceeds the natural variability range. The "hockey stick"–like change warns that the warming and drying concurrence is potentially irreversible beyond a tipping point in the East Asian climate system.

  • Precise T cell recognition programs designed by transcriptionally linking multiple receptors 

    Living cells often identify their correct partner or target cells by integrating information from multiple receptors, achieving levels of recognition that are difficult to obtain with individual molecular interactions. In this study, we engineered a diverse library of multireceptor cell-cell recognition circuits by using synthetic Notch receptors to transcriptionally interconnect multiple molecular recognition events. These synthetic circuits allow engineered T cells to integrate extra- and intracellular antigen recognition, are robust to heterogeneity, and achieve precise recognition by integrating up to three different antigens with positive or negative logic. A three-antigen AND gate composed of three sequentially linked receptors shows selectivity in vivo, clearing three-antigen tumors while ignoring related two-antigen tumors. Daisy-chaining multiple molecular recognition events together in synthetic circuits provides a powerful way to engineer cellular-level recognition.

  • Elongational stalling activates mitoribosome-associated quality control 

    The human mitochondrial ribosome (mitoribosome) and associated proteins regulate the synthesis of 13 essential subunits of the oxidative phosphorylation complexes. We report the discovery of a mitoribosome-associated quality control pathway that responds to interruptions during elongation, and we present structures at 3.1- to 3.3-angstrom resolution of mitoribosomal large subunits trapped during ribosome rescue. Release factor homolog C12orf65 (mtRF-R) and RNA binding protein C6orf203 (MTRES1) eject the nascent chain and peptidyl transfer RNA (tRNA), respectively, from stalled ribosomes. Recruitment of mitoribosome biogenesis factors to these quality control intermediates suggests additional roles for these factors during mitoribosome rescue. We also report related cryo–electron microscopy structures (3.7 to 4.4 angstrom resolution) of elongating mitoribosomes bound to tRNAs, nascent polypeptides, the guanosine triphosphatase elongation factors mtEF-Tu and mtEF-G1, and the Oxa1L translocase.

  • REGN-COV2 antibodies prevent and treat SARS-CoV-2 infection in rhesus macaques and hamsters 

    An urgent global quest for effective therapies to prevent and treat coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is ongoing. We previously described REGN-COV2, a cocktail of two potent neutralizing antibodies (REGN10987 and REGN10933) that targets nonoverlapping epitopes on the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) spike protein. In this report, we evaluate the in vivo efficacy of this antibody cocktail in both rhesus macaques, which may model mild disease, and golden hamsters, which may model more severe disease. We demonstrate that REGN-COV-2 can greatly reduce virus load in the lower and upper airways and decrease virus-induced pathological sequelae when administered prophylactically or therapeutically in rhesus macaques. Similarly, administration in hamsters limits weight loss and decreases lung titers and evidence of pneumonia in the lungs. Our results provide evidence of the therapeutic potential of this antibody cocktail.

  • A chimeric gene paternally instructs female sex determination in the haplodiploid wasp Nasonia 

    Various primary signals direct insect sex determination. In hymenopteran insects, the presence of a paternal genome is needed to initiate female development. When absent, uniparental haploid males develop. We molecularly and functionally identified the instructor sex-determination gene, wasp overruler of masculinization (wom), of the haplodiploid wasp Nasonia vitripennis. This gene contains a P53-like domain coding region and arose by gene duplication and genomic rearrangements. Maternal silencing of wom results in male development of haploid embryos. Upon fertilization, early zygotic transcription from the paternal wom allele is initiated, followed by a timely zygotic expression of transformer (tra), leading to female development. Wom is an instructor gene with a parent-of-origin effect in sex determination.

  • Credit where credit is due 
  • Protein storytelling through physics 

    Every protein has a story—how it folds, what it binds, its biological actions, and how it misbehaves in aging or disease. Stories are often inferred from a protein’s shape (i.e., its structure). But increasingly, stories are told using computational molecular physics (CMP). CMP is rooted in the principled physics of driving forces and reveals granular detail of conformational populations in space and time. Recent advances are accessing longer time scales, larger actions, and blind testing, enabling more of biology’s stories to be told in the language of atomistic physics.

  • Comment on "Forest microclimate dynamics drive plant responses to warming" 

    Zellweger et al. (Reports, 15 May 2020, p. 772) claimed that forest plant communities’ response to global warming is primarily controlled by microclimate dynamics. We show that community thermophilization is poorly explained by the underlying components of microclimate, and that global warming primarily controls the climatic lag of plant communities. Deconstructing the underlying components of microclimate provides insights for managers.

  • Viral epitope profiling of COVID-19 patients reveals cross-reactivity and correlates of severity 

    Understanding humoral responses to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is critical for improving diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines. Deep serological profiling of 232 coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients and 190 pre–COVID-19 era controls using VirScan revealed more than 800 epitopes in the SARS-CoV-2 proteome, including 10 epitopes likely recognized by neutralizing antibodies. Preexisting antibodies in controls recognized SARS-CoV-2 ORF1, whereas only COVID-19 patient antibodies primarily recognized spike protein and nucleoprotein. A machine learning model trained on VirScan data predicted SARS-CoV-2 exposure history with 99% sensitivity and 98% specificity; a rapid Luminex-based diagnostic was developed from the most discriminatory SARS-CoV-2 peptides. Individuals with more severe COVID-19 exhibited stronger and broader SARS-CoV-2 responses, weaker antibody responses to prior infections, and higher incidence of cytomegalovirus and herpes simplex virus 1, possibly influenced by demographic covariates. Among hospitalized patients, males produce stronger SARS-CoV-2 antibody responses than females.

  • Abl and Canoe/Afadin mediate mechanotransduction at tricellular junctions 

    Epithelial structure is generated by the dynamic reorganization of cells in response to mechanical forces. Adherens junctions transmit forces between cells, but how cells sense and respond to these forces in vivo is not well understood. We identify a mechanotransduction pathway involving the Abl tyrosine kinase and Canoe/Afadin that stabilizes cell adhesion under tension at tricellular junctions in the Drosophila embryo. Canoe is recruited to tricellular junctions in response to actomyosin contractility, and this mechanosensitivity requires Abl-dependent phosphorylation of a conserved tyrosine in the Canoe actin-binding domain. Preventing Canoe tyrosine phosphorylation destabilizes tricellular adhesion, and anchoring Canoe at tricellular junctions independently of mechanical inputs aberrantly stabilizes adhesion, arresting cell rearrangement. These results identify a force-responsive mechanism that stabilizes tricellular adhesion under tension during epithelial remodeling.

  • Identification of Integrator-PP2A complex (INTAC), an RNA polymerase II phosphatase 

    The 14-subunit metazoan-specific Integrator contains an endonuclease that cleaves nascent RNA transcripts. Here, we identified a complex containing Integrator and protein phosphatase 2A core enzyme (PP2A-AC), termed INTAC. The 3.5-angstrom-resolution structure reveals that nine human Integrator subunits and PP2A-AC assemble into a cruciform-shaped central scaffold formed by the backbone and shoulder modules, with the phosphatase and endonuclease modules flanking the opposite sides. As a noncanonical PP2A holoenzyme, the INTAC complex dephosphorylates the carboxy-terminal repeat domain of RNA polymerase II at serine-2, -5, and -7 and thus regulates transcription. Our study extends the function of PP2A to transcriptional regulation and reveals how dual enzymatic activities—RNA cleavage and RNA polymerase II dephosphorylation—are structurally and functionally integrated into the INTAC complex.

  • In vivo Perturb-Seq reveals neuronal and glial abnormalities associated with autism risk genes 

    The number of disease risk genes and loci identified through human genetic studies far outstrips the capacity to systematically study their functions. We applied a scalable genetic screening approach, in vivo Perturb-Seq, to functionally evaluate 35 autism spectrum disorder/neurodevelopmental delay (ASD/ND) de novo loss-of-function risk genes. Using CRISPR-Cas9, we introduced frameshift mutations in these risk genes in pools, within the developing mouse brain in utero, followed by single-cell RNA-sequencing of perturbed cells in the postnatal brain. We identified cell type–specific and evolutionarily conserved gene modules from both neuronal and glial cell classes. Recurrent gene modules and cell types are affected across this cohort of perturbations, representing key cellular effects across sets of ASD/ND risk genes. In vivo Perturb-Seq allows us to investigate how diverse mutations affect cell types and states in the developing organism.

  • Response to Comment on "Forest microclimate dynamics drive plant responses to warming" 

    Bertrand et al. question our interpretation about warming effects on the thermophilization in forest plant communities and propose an alternative way to analyze climatic debt. We show that microclimate warming is a better predictor than macroclimate warming for studying forest plant community responses to warming. Their additional analyses do not affect or change our interpretations and conclusions.