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Organic Chemistry and Chemical Biology

Welcome to the Nature Communications Editors’ Highlights webpage on organic chemistry and chemical biology. Each month our editors select a small number of Articles recently published in Nature Communications that they believe are particularly interesting or important.

The aim is to provide a snapshot of some of the most exciting work published in the area of organic chemistry and chemical biology at Nature Communications. Each editor handles a different area of this research, as described below:

Giovanni Bottari handles synthetic organic chemistry, more specifically catalytic and non-catalytic methodologies and total synthesis contents.

Julia Eckhoff handles manuscripts on chemical biology and medicinal chemistry.

Johannes Kreutzer handles manuscripts on chemical soft matter and advanced organic functional materials.

Prabhjot Saini handles manuscripts discussing polymers and hydrogels.

Giovanni Bottari

  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Cross-dehydrogenative coupling (CDC) is a powerful method for C-C bond formation however the enantioselective variant is underdeveloped. Here, the authors show a formal enantioselective CDC method involving unactivated ethers and carboxylic acid derivatives allowing for the rapid preparation of biologically active molecules.

    • Gang Wang
    • , Xiaodong Xin
    • , Zehua Wang
    • , Gang Lu
    • , Yudao Ma
    •  &  Lei Liu
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Alcohols are very useful building blocks in organic synthesis, however C–H functionaliztion in presence of free –OH groups is highly challenging. Here, the authors report a selective visible light-promoted α-functionalization of free alcohols with heteroarenes mediated by Selectofluor.

    • Linbin Niu
    • , Jiamei Liu
    • , Xing-An Liang
    • , Shengchun Wang
    •  &  Aiwen Lei
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Cross-coupling reactions have been achieved in solution, yet tend to be inefficient in a solid state. Here, the authors report a solid-state palladium-catalyzed Buchwald-Hartwig cross-coupling using olefins as molecular dispersants, enabling reduction of solvent waste.

    • Koji Kubota
    • , Tamae Seo
    • , Katsumasa Koide
    • , Yasuchika Hasegawa
    •  &  Hajime Ito
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Chiroptical sensing in complex mixtures remains a challenging task. Here, the authors report an efficient coumarin probe for chiroptical click chirality sensing of absolute configuration, concentration and enantiomeric excess of several compound classes. The method can be directly applied to crude asymmetric reaction mixtures.

    • F. Yushra Thanzeel
    • , Kaluvu Balaraman
    •  &  Christian Wolf
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Although the Sonogashira coupling of acetylenes and vinyl/aryl halides has been applied for decades, many mechanistic questions have remained unanswered. Here, the authors provide experimental and theoretical support for two interlinked palladium cycles operating in the debated Sonogashira coupling mechanism.

    • Martin Gazvoda
    • , Miha Virant
    • , Balazs Pinter
    •  &  Janez Košmrlj
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Diversity-oriented synthesis is a valuable strategy to construct complex molecules of medicinal interest. Here, the authors show a folding cascade strategy to convert linear substrates into polycyclic compounds with multiple stereocentres by combining the reductive chemistry of SmI2 with 1,5-hydrogen atom transfer.

    • Mateusz P. Plesniak
    • , Monserrat H. Garduño-Castro
    • , Philipp Lenz
    • , Xavier Just-Baringo
    •  &  David J. Procter

Julia Eckhoff

  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Membraneless compartments have been theorized to be prebiotic micro-compartments as they spontaneously encapsulate RNA and proteins. Here, the authors report membraneless compartments can enhance RNA chemistries, affecting template directed RNA polymerization and stimulating nucleic acid enzymes.

    • Raghav R. Poudyal
    • , Rebecca M. Guth-Metzler
    • , Andrew J. Veenis
    • , Erica A. Frankel
    • , Christine D. Keating
    •  &  Philip C. Bevilacqua
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    The origin of phospholipids, the primary constituents of cell membranes, is uncertain. Here, the authors develop an in vitro system to synthesize phospholipid molecules from water-soluble single-chain amphiphilic precursors via a reaction catalysed by the mycobacterial ligase FadD10.

    • Ahanjit Bhattacharya
    • , Roberto J. Brea
    • , Henrike Niederholtmeyer
    •  &  Neal K. Devaraj
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    The oncogene STAT5 is involved in cancer cell proliferation. Here, the authors use STAT5 protein to assemble its own small molecule inhibitors via Mannich ligation (three-component-reactions) and show that the resultant ligands can inhibit the proliferation of cancer cells in a mouse model.

    • Ee Lin Wong
    • , Eric Nawrotzky
    • , Christoph Arkona
    • , Boo Geun Kim
    • , Samuel Beligny
    • , Xinning Wang
    • , Stefan Wagner
    • , Michael Lisurek
    • , Dirk Carstanjen
    •  &  Jörg Rademann
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Tropinone is an intermediate in the biosynthesis of tropane alkaloids. Here, the authors discovered the enzymes AbPYKS and AbCYP82M3, a non-canonical polyketide synthase and a cytochrome P450, that work sequentially to form tropinone from N-methyl-Δ1-pyrrolinium cation.

    • Matthew A. Bedewitz
    • , A. Daniel Jones
    • , John C. D’Auria
    •  &  Cornelius S. Barry
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Accumulated HMG-CoA reductase (HMGCR) limits the cholesterol-lowering effect of statins via a feedback loop. Here the authors developed a compound that degrades HMGCR, thus decreasing cholesterol levels and reducing atherosclerotic plaques.

    • Shi-You Jiang
    • , Hui Li
    • , Jing-Jie Tang
    • , Jie Wang
    • , Jie Luo
    • , Bing Liu
    • , Jin-Kai Wang
    • , Xiong-Jie Shi
    • , Hai-Wei Cui
    • , Jie Tang
    • , Fan Yang
    • , Wei Qi
    • , Wen-Wei Qiu
    •  &  Bao-Liang Song
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    The efficacy of nanoparticles can be significantly inhibited by serum proteins binding to them. Here, the author developed a supramolecularly constructed protein corona on nanoparticles, which minimises interactions with serum proteins to prevent the clearance of these particles by macrophages.

    • Jun Yong Oh
    • , Han Sol Kim
    • , L. Palanikumar
    • , Eun Min Go
    • , Batakrishna Jana
    • , Soo Ah Park
    • , Ho Young Kim
    • , Kibeom Kim
    • , Jeong Kon Seo
    • , Sang Kyu Kwak
    • , Chaekyu Kim
    • , Sebyung Kang
    •  &  Ja-Hyoung Ryu

Johannes Kreutzer

  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Self-assembly of carbohydrates play an integral part in the design of higher ordered structures, but is limited to amphiphiles where the carbohydrate is covalently bound to a hydrophobic tail. Here the authors show that sugars direct the self-assembly of insoluble curcumin and the formation of well-defined capsules.

    • Sandy Wong
    • , Jiacheng Zhao
    • , Cheng Cao
    • , Chin Ken Wong
    • , Rhiannon P. Kuchel
    • , Sergio De Luca
    • , James M. Hook
    • , Christopher J. Garvey
    • , Sean Smith
    • , Junming Ho
    •  &  Martina H. Stenzel
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    High mass loading and fast charge transport are two crucial but often mutually exclusive characteristics of pseudocapacitors. Here, the authors address this challenge by making use of block copolymer phase separation in the synthesis of porous carbon fibres as carbon supports for pseudocapacitors.

    • Tianyu Liu
    • , Zhengping Zhou
    • , Yichen Guo
    • , Dong Guo
    •  &  Guoliang Liu
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Bacterial cellulose (BC) is a ubiquitous biomaterial, but functionalization relies on modification processes which have low reaction efficiency and can cause pollution. Here the authors develop an environmental friendly in-situ fermentation method using fluorescein labelled glucose to produce fluorescent BC.

    • Minghong Gao
    • , Juan Li
    • , Zixian Bao
    • , Moudong Hu
    • , Rui Nian
    • , Dexin Feng
    • , Dong An
    • , Xing Li
    • , Mo Xian
    •  &  Haibo Zhang
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Organic luminescent materials are often used in modern technologies, but aggregation induced quenching caused by planar aromatic structures hampers their applicability. Here, the authors demonstrate a facile co-assembly method for luminescent cocrystals and protection with hydrophilic PEO chains which allow good dispersibility in water.

    • Yinjuan Huang
    • , Jie Xing
    • , Qiuyu Gong
    • , Li-Chuan Chen
    • , Guangfeng Liu
    • , Changjiang Yao
    • , Zongrui Wang
    • , Hao-Li Zhang
    • , Zhong Chen
    •  &  Qichun Zhang
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    The discovery of new covalent organic framework (COF) topologies is often led by trial-and-error experiments. Here, the authors present a methodology for high throughput construction of COFs based on a materials genomics strategy and demonstrate the synthesis of the generated 2D and 3D-COFs.

    • Youshi Lan
    • , Xianghao Han
    • , Minman Tong
    • , Hongliang Huang
    • , Qingyuan Yang
    • , Dahuan Liu
    • , Xin Zhao
    •  &  Chongli Zhong
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    3D covalent organic frameworks (COF) show interesting hierarchical arrangements of nanopores and open sites but their synthesis remains challenging. Here the authors report a fluorescent AIEgen-based 3D COF and demonstrate application as a coating material for white LEDs and for sensing of picric acid

    • Huimin Ding
    • , Jian Li
    • , Guohua Xie
    • , Guiqing Lin
    • , Rufan Chen
    • , Zhengkang Peng
    • , Chuluo Yang
    • , Baoshan Wang
    • , Junliang Sun
    •  &  Cheng Wang

Prabhjot Saini

  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Cubic crystalline single networks of large open-space lattices are ubiquitous in nature. Here the authors show that the topology of the circumferential bilayer of polymer cubosomes differentiates between two non-intersecting pore networks embedded in the cubic mesophase by sealing one channel network at the interface.

    • Yunju La
    • , Jeongeun Song
    • , Moon Gon Jeong
    • , Arah Cho
    • , Seon-Mi Jin
    • , Eunji Lee
    •  &  Kyoung Taek Kim
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Cyclic polymers can be usually accessed by ring-expansion and ring-closure approaches. Here, the authors report an alternative blocking-cyclization technique which enables the tunable synthesis of multicyclic polymers via commercial Ru-based Grubbs catalysts and conventional ring-opening metathesis polymerisation.

    • Jie Chen
    • , Hongfei Li
    • , Hengchen Zhang
    • , Xiaojuan Liao
    • , Huijing Han
    • , Lidong Zhang
    • , Ruyi Sun
    •  &  Meiran Xie
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Ring-opening polymerizations of α-amino acid N-carboxyanhydrides to form polypeptides are usually sensitive to moisture, slow and can undergo side reactions. Here the authors use lithium hexamethyldisilazide to initiate α-amino acid N-carboxyanhydride polymerizations that is very fast and can be conducted in an open vessel.

    • Yueming Wu
    • , Danfeng Zhang
    • , Pengcheng Ma
    • , Ruiyi Zhou
    • , Lei Hua
    •  &  Runhui Liu
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    High-conductivity solid-state electrolyte materials with minimal polarization loss are difficult to synthesize. Here the authors show single-ion block copolymers with crystalline protogenic channels having a promising potential to be used as efficient proton conductors.

    • Onnuri Kim
    • , Kyoungwook Kim
    • , U. Hyeok Choi
    •  &  Moon Jeong Park
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    The mechanism for nickel-catalyzed catalyst transfer polycondensation of thiophenes to polythiophenes. Here the authors show experimental and computational evidence of structurally characterized square planar η2-Ni(0)–thiophene species and their relevance to the mechanism of catalyst transfer polycondensation.

    • Weiying He
    • , Brian O. Patrick
    •  &  Pierre Kennepohl
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Sequence-defined macromolecules consist of a defined chain length and topology and can be used in applications such as antibiotics and data storage. Here the authors developed two algorithms to encode text fragments and QR codes as a collection of oligomers and to reconstruct the original data.

    • Steven Martens
    • , Annelies Landuyt
    • , Pieter Espeel
    • , Bart Devreese
    • , Peter Dawyndt
    •  &  Filip Du Prez