Chemical biology

Definition

Chemical biology is the study of the chemicals and chemical reactions involved in biological processes, incorporating the disciplines of bioorganic chemistry, biochemistry, cell biology and pharmacology. Chemicals – including natural small molecules, such as lipids, carbohydrates and metals, or non-natural probe or drug molecules – are used to gain insight into biological problems at a mechanistic level.

Featured

Latest Research and Reviews

  • Protocols |

    This protocol describes the deep-scale analysis of the blood plasma proteome. By combining abundant protein depletion, sample multiplexing with isobaric labeling and fractionation, this enables rapid quantification of >4,500 plasma proteins.

    • Hasmik Keshishian
    • , Michael W Burgess
    • , Harrison Specht
    • , Luke Wallace
    • , Karl R Clauser
    • , Michael A Gillette
    •  & Steven A Carr
    Nature Protocols 12, 1683–1701
  • Research |

    Experimental and computed nuclear magnetic resonance data and an iterative synthetic strategy have revealed the correct structures of the baulamycins, potentially important antimicrobial compounds, allowing them to be chemically synthesized.

    • Jingjing Wu
    • , Paula Lorenzo
    • , Siying Zhong
    • , Muhammad Ali
    • , Craig P. Butts
    • , Eddie L. Myers
    •  & Varinder K. Aggarwal
    Nature 547, 436–440
  • Research | | open

    MgtE is an Mg2+ transporter involved in Mg2+ homeostasis. Here, the authors report that ATP regulates the Mg+2-dependent gating of MgtE and use X-ray crystallography combined with functional studies to propose the molecular mechanisms involved in this process.

    • Atsuhiro Tomita
    • , Mingfeng Zhang
    • , Fei Jin
    • , Wenhui Zhuang
    • , Hironori Takeda
    • , Tatsuro Maruyama
    • , Masanori Osawa
    • , Ken-ichi Hashimoto
    • , Hisashi Kawasaki
    • , Koichi Ito
    • , Naoshi Dohmae
    • , Ryuichiro Ishitani
    • , Ichio Shimada
    • , Zhiqiang Yan
    • , Motoyuki Hattori
    •  & Osamu Nureki
  • Reviews |

    Recent years have witnessed a surge of interest in targeted covalent inhibition of disease-associated proteins. Among the electrophiles used to interact with nucleophilic residues in protein structures, boron is unique for its chameleonic ability to display a range of coordination modes upon interaction with protein targets.

    • Diego B. Diaz
    •  & Andrei K. Yudin
    Nature Chemistry 9, 731–742

News and Comment

  • News |

    After tackling the genomes of bacteria and yeast, synthetic biologists are setting their sights on rewriting those of more complex organisms, including humans.

    • Jeffrey M. Perkel
    Nature 547, 477–479
  • News and Views |

    Intracellular protein delivery has been a major challenge in the field of cell biology for decades. Engineering such delivery is a key step in the development of protein- and antibody-based therapeutics. Now, two different approaches that enable the delivery of antibodies and antibody fragments into the cytosol have been developed.

    • Macarena Sánchez-Navarro
    • , Meritxell Teixidó
    •  & Ernest Giralt
    Nature Chemistry 9, 727–728
  • Research Highlights |

    Neutrophils carrying liposomes that contain the antimitotic drug paclitaxel can penetrate the brain and suppress the recurrence of glioma in mice, thereby significantly improving survival.

    • M. Teresa Villanueva
    Nature Reviews Cancer 17, 454–455
  • News and Views |

    Co-culture of bacterial cells engineered with quorum-sensing and self-lysis circuits allows coupled oscillatory dynamics and stable states, opening the way to engineered microbial ecosystems with targeted dynamics and extending gene circuits to the ecosystem level.

    • Alfonso Jaramillo