Browse Articles

  • Thesis |

    To appreciate women’s contribution to science, Michelle Francl suggests it’s time to stop talking about the most famous one.

    • Michelle Francl
  • Review Article |

    Phytochemicals exhibit great pharmaceutical importance despite their low abundance in nature. The microbial biosynthesis of complex phytochemicals offers one route to increase their availability and production. This Review discusses recent strategies to reconstruct plant biosynthetic pathways that have not been fully elucidated; enhance plant enzyme activity; and enhance overall reaction efficiency of multi-enzyme pathways.

    • Sijin Li
    • , Yanran Li
    •  & Christina D. Smolke
  • News & Views |

    Ribosomes have now been shown to accept certain initiator tRNAs acylated with aromatic foldamer–dipeptides thereby enabling the translation of a peptide or protein with a short aromatic foldamer at the N-terminus. Some foldamer–peptide hybrids could be cyclized to generate macrocycles that present conformationally restricted peptide loops.

    • Alanna Schepartz
  • News & Views |

    Evolution of highly functionalized DNA could enable the discovery of artificial nucleic acid sequences with different properties to natural DNA. Now, an artificial translation system has been designed that can support the evolution of non-natural sequence-defined nucleic acid polymers carrying eight different functional groups on 32 codons.

    • John C. Chaput
  • Perspective |

    Organic synthesis is a rate-limiting factor in drug discovery, so the pharmaceutical industry heavily relies on academic research. This Perspective highlights some of the most pressing challenges to be overcome from the industrial viewpoint — such as the development of reactions tolerating specific functionalities — and encourages stronger industry–academia relationships.

    • David C. Blakemore
    • , Luis Castro
    • , Ian Churcher
    • , David C. Rees
    • , Andrew W. Thomas
    • , David M. Wilson
    •  & Anthony Wood
  • In Your Element |

    From its scarcity to political intrigue over naming conventions, element 108’s story describes how international cooperation overcame the limits of nuclear science, says Michael Tarselli.

    • Michael A. Tarselli
  • Article |

    Halogen bonding is known to get stronger with increasing halogen polarizability, but some trends of the periodic table break down for heavy elements owing to relativistic effects. Now, through distribution coefficient measurements and relativistic quantum mechanical calculations, AtI has been shown to form stronger halogen bonds than I2—meaning that astatine conforms to the trend.

    • Ning Guo
    • , Rémi Maurice
    • , David Teze
    • , Jérôme Graton
    • , Julie Champion
    • , Gilles Montavon
    •  & Nicolas Galland
  • Article |

    Encoded display of multiple chemical elements on a constant macrocyclic scaffold could mimick antibody–antigen recognition. A chemical library constructed using this approach enabled the identification of specific binders against a variety of protein targets, including difficult targets, such as TNF.

    • Yizhou Li
    • , Roberto De Luca
    • , Samuele Cazzamalli
    • , Francesca Pretto
    • , Davor Bajic
    • , Jörg Scheuermann
    •  & Dario Neri
  • Article |

    The extent to which peptide synthesis by the ribosome can tolerate the inclusion of non-peptidic components is not clear. Yet such hybrids would expand the range of ribosomally synthesized structures. Now it has been shown that tRNAs acylated by aromatic foldamers can initiate the ribosomal synthesis of non-cyclic and cyclic foldamer–peptide hybrid molecules. The oligo-aryl segments contain folding information that can control peptide conformation in the hybrids.

    • Joseph M. Rogers
    • , Sunbum Kwon
    • , Simon J. Dawson
    • , Pradeep K. Mandal
    • , Hiroaki Suga
    •  & Ivan Huc
  • Article |

    Isotope effects provide deep insight into mechanisms of chemical and biochemical processes. Now, it has been shown that the pattern of isotopic substitution of the isomerizing bond of the retinal chromophore in the visual pigment rhodopsin significantly alters the reaction quantum yield—revealing a vibrational phase-dependent isotope effect.

    • C. Schnedermann
    • , X. Yang
    • , M. Liebel
    • , K. M. Spillane
    • , J. Lugtenburg
    • , I. Fernández
    • , A. Valentini
    • , I. Schapiro
    • , M. Olivucci
    • , P. Kukura
    •  & R. A. Mathies
  • Article |

    Inspired by the post-translational modifications of polypeptides widespread in biological systems, the one-pot synthesis of biohybrid materials was engineered within Escherichia coli using a recombinant expression and post-translational lipidation. The fatty-acid-modified elastin-like polypeptides (FAMEs) prepared, which comprise peptide-amphiphile segments prone to self-assembly fused to a thermally responsive elastin-like polypeptide, exhibit temperature-triggered hierarchical assembly.

    • Davoud Mozhdehi
    • , Kelli M. Luginbuhl
    • , Joseph R. Simon
    • , Michael Dzuricky
    • , Rüdiger Berger
    • , H. Samet Varol
    • , Fred C. Huang
    • , Kristen L. Buehne
    • , Nicholas R. Mayne
    • , Isaac Weitzhandler
    • , Mischa Bonn
    • , Sapun H. Parekh
    •  & Ashutosh Chilkoti
  • Article |

    The construction of dynamic protein–DNA nano-assemblies suitable for modulating protein proximities and activities has now been demonstrated. This approach uses DNA strand displacement and can enable control of enzyme activity to be programmed using logic gates. As a demonstration, a split enzyme capable of activating a prodrug is triggered is by cancer-specific miRNAs.

    • Rebecca P. Chen
    • , Daniel Blackstock
    • , Qing Sun
    •  & Wilfred Chen
  • News & Views |

    The aqueous hydronium cation diffuses about twice as fast as the aqueous hydroxide anion in liquid water, but the origin of this behaviour has been unclear. Now, state-of-the-art simulations provide an explanation for this long-standing conundrum.

    • Ji Chen
    •  & Angelos Michaelides
  • Article |

    Heterometallic nanomaterials in unusual crystal phases that are impossible to form in the bulk state can show interesting physical and chemical properties. Here, crystal-phase heterostructured 4H/fcc Au nanowires are used as seeds to epitaxially grow a variety of binary and ternary hybrid noble metal nanostructures on the phase boundary.

    • Qipeng Lu
    • , An-Liang Wang
    • , Yue Gong
    • , Wei Hao
    • , Hongfei Cheng
    • , Junze Chen
    • , Bing Li
    • , Nailiang Yang
    • , Wenxin Niu
    • , Jie Wang
    • , Yifu Yu
    • , Xiao Zhang
    • , Ye Chen
    • , Zhanxi Fan
    • , Xue-Jun Wu
    • , Jinping Chen
    • , Jun Luo
    • , Shuzhou Li
    • , Lin Gu
    •  & Hua Zhang
  • Article |

    Even though the Grotthuss mechanism was proposed two centuries ago, it is still unclear why proton transfer via the hydroxide ion is slower than that via hydronium. Advanced ab initio molecular dynamics simulations now show that it is because proton transfer via hydroxide is less temporally correlated than transfer via hydronium.

    • Mohan Chen
    • , Lixin Zheng
    • , Biswajit Santra
    • , Hsin-Yu Ko
    • , Robert A. DiStasio Jr
    • , Michael L. Klein
    • , Roberto Car
    •  & Xifan Wu
  • Article |

    A method to produce sequence-defined, diversely functionalized nucleic acid polymers that bind to proteins of biomedical interest has been developed. The method is based on a ligase-mediated, DNA-templated polymerization system and in vitro selection. The selected polymers are shown to bind their targets in a manner that is strongly dependent on specific side chains at certain polymer positions.

    • Zhen Chen
    • , Phillip A. Lichtor
    • , Adrian P. Berliner
    • , Jonathan C. Chen
    •  & David R. Liu
  • Article |

    A low-power laser can cause phase separation or trigger the nucleation of a new phase in the proximity of a liquid–liquid critical point, or binodal, using a laser tweezing potential. This effect explains the physics behind non-photochemical laser-induced nucleation and suggests new ways of manipulating matter.

    • Finlay Walton
    •  & Klaas Wynne
  • Article |

    Nearly all organic carbon has now been quantified and characterized in a highly complex evolving atmospheric system, specifically, the multigenerational oxidation of α-pinene. It has been observed that initial addition of functional groups quickly gives way to fragmentation reactions, with organic carbon ultimately becoming sequestered in chemically resistant reservoirs: organic aerosols and long-lived gas-phase species.

    • Gabriel Isaacman-VanWertz
    • , Paola Massoli
    • , Rachel O’Brien
    • , Christopher Lim
    • , Jonathan P. Franklin
    • , Joshua A. Moss
    • , James F. Hunter
    • , John B. Nowak
    • , Manjula R. Canagaratna
    • , Pawel K. Misztal
    • , Caleb Arata
    • , Joseph R. Roscioli
    • , Scott T. Herndon
    • , Timothy B. Onasch
    • , Andrew T. Lambe
    • , John T. Jayne
    • , Luping Su
    • , Daniel A. Knopf
    • , Allen H. Goldstein
    • , Douglas R. Worsnop
    •  & Jesse H. Kroll
  • Article |

    The vibrational relaxation of molecules adsorbed at metal surfaces is considered to be relatively fast and thus examples of vibrationally induced chemistry at surfaces are rare. The adsorption and subsequent desorption of long-lived vibrationally excited CO molecules from a gold surface have now been observed, suggesting that vibrational promotion of surface chemistry might be more prevalent than currently thought.

    • Pranav R. Shirhatti
    • , Igor Rahinov
    • , Kai Golibrzuch
    • , Jörn Werdecker
    • , Jan Geweke
    • , Jan Altschäffel
    • , Sumit Kumar
    • , Daniel J. Auerbach
    • , Christof Bartels
    •  & Alec M. Wodtke
  • News & Views |

    An arene-anchored uranium complex has recently been shown to serve as efficient electrocatalyst for the conversion of water into dihydrogen. Now, the crucial role of the arene moiety in enabling catalytic activity — unusual for uranium — has been explored, providing important insight for the design of improved electrocatalysts.

    • Marinella Mazzanti
  • In Your Element |

    Lars Öhrström suspects that as time goes by, we may see more of lutetium — the last of the lanthanoids.

    • Lars Öhrström
  • News & Views |

    Rational engineering of biosynthetic assembly lines for production of new compounds is an attractive prospect, yet it presents many challenges. Learning from biology, some of the rules for expanding the chemical diversity of non-ribosomal peptides have been uncovered in two recent studies.

    • Binuraj R. K. Menon
    •  & Matthew Jenner
  • Article |

    Calculations at the theoretical gold standard generally yield accurate results for a variety of energy-transfer processes in molecular collisions. Using anti-seeding methods in a crossed-beam inelastic scattering experiment, a resonance structure is clearly resolved for NO–H2 collisions, pushing the required accuracy for theoretical potentials beyond the gold standard.

    • Sjoerd N. Vogels
    • , Tijs Karman
    • , Jacek Kłos
    • , Matthieu Besemer
    • , Jolijn Onvlee
    • , Ad van der Avoird
    • , Gerrit C. Groenenboom
    •  & Sebastiaan Y. T. van de Meerakker
  • Article |

    Collisions between atoms and molecules are largely understood; however, our understanding of collisions between two molecules is lacking because they are significantly harder to study, Now, correlated rotational excitations have been observed in inelastic collisions between NO and O2 molecules. It is shown that the energy-gap law that governs atom–molecule collisions does not generally apply to bimolecular excitation processes.

    • Zhi Gao
    • , Tijs Karman
    • , Sjoerd N. Vogels
    • , Matthieu Besemer
    • , Ad van der Avoird
    • , Gerrit C. Groenenboom
    •  & Sebastiaan Y. T. van de Meerakker