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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

    While the trifluoromethylative difunctionalization of unactivated alkenes has been largely explored, methylative difunctionalization remains underinvestigated. Here, the authors report copper-catalyzed alkoxy- and azido-methylation reactions of alkenes leading to important synthetic building blocks and valuable O- and N-heterocycles.

    • Xu Bao
    • , Takayuki Yokoe
    • , Tu M. Ha
    • , Qian Wang
    •  &  Jieping Zhu
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Compounds containing stereocenters bearing -CF3 groups, especially in proximity of heteroatoms, are of great interest for drug and agrochemicals development. Here, the authors report a nickel-catalyzed Hiyama cross-coupling methodology for the asymmetric synthesis of valuable alpha-trifluoromethyl alcohols and ethers.

    • Andrii Varenikov
    •  &  Mark Gandelman
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Amines are common targets in synthetic chemistry as they often display biological activity. Here, the authors report a one-pot aminobenzylation of aldehydes with readily available toluenes in presence of a sodium amide derivative and a cesium salt additive generating an array of valuable 1,2-diarylethylamine compounds.

    • Zhiting Wang
    • , Zhipeng Zheng
    • , Xinyu Xu
    • , Jianyou Mao
    •  &  Patrick J. Walsh
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Selective remote functionalization of aliphatic C(sp3)−H bonds is highly challenging and often requires transition metals and/or directing groups. Here, the authors show the γ-arylation of aliphatic alcohols via a two-step radical translocation and subsequent radical aryl migration.

    • Florian W. Friese
    • , Christian Mück-Lichtenfeld
    •  &  Armido Studer
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Aliphatic alcohols usually require pre-activation for successful functionalization of their carbon chain. Here, the authors report a silver-catalyzed δ-selective functionalization of aliphatic alcohols via Csp3-H bond cleavage under mild conditions without the need of substrate pre-activation.

    • Yuchao Zhu
    • , Kaimeng Huang
    • , Jun Pan
    • , Xu Qiu
    • , Xiao Luo
    • , Qixue Qin
    • , Jialiang Wei
    • , Xiaojin Wen
    • , Lizhi Zhang
    •  &  Ning Jiao
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Late-stage diversification of natural products is an important starting point for drug discovery. Here, the authors use chiral reagents to perform the regiocontrolled ring expansion of steroid precursors and achieve more than 100 isomerically pure analogs with spatial and functional diversity.

    • Manwika Charaschanya
    •  &  Jeffrey Aubé

Julia Eckhoff

  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Garlic has a mild antibacterial activity due to its organosulfur content. Here, the authors develop an approach to convert natural organosulfur into iron-sulfur nanosheets, with significantly higher antibacterial activity that can be used against infections as well as biofilms.

    • Zhuobin Xu
    • , Zhiyue Qiu
    • , Qi Liu
    • , Yixin Huang
    • , Dandan Li
    • , Xinggui Shen
    • , Kelong Fan
    • , Juqun Xi
    • , Yunhao Gu
    • , Yan Tang
    • , Jing Jiang
    • , Jialei Xu
    • , Jinzhi He
    • , Xingfa Gao
    • , Yuan Liu
    • , Hyun Koo
    • , Xiyun Yan
    •  &  Lizeng Gao
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Albomycins are promising drug candidates for the treatment of bacterial infections. Here, the authors describe the total syntheses of albomycins δ1, δ2, and ε, and evaluate their antimicrobial activity, identifying albomycin δ2 as a strong agent against S. pneumoniae and S. aureus infections.

    • Zihua Lin
    • , Xiaobo Xu
    • , Sheng Zhao
    • , Xiaohong Yang
    • , Jian Guo
    • , Qun Zhang
    • , Chunmei Jing
    • , Shawn Chen
    •  &  Yun He
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    His-tagged proteins can undergo N-terminal acylation as an undesired side-reaction. Here, the authors utilize this to develop a method for highly selective acylation and further modification of peptides and proteins using an optimized His sequence and 4-methoxyphenyl esters as acyl donors.

    • Manuel C. Martos-Maldonado
    • , Christian T. Hjuler
    • , Kasper K. Sørensen
    • , Mikkel B. Thygesen
    • , Jakob E. Rasmussen
    • , Klaus Villadsen
    • , Søren R. Midtgaard
    • , Stefan Kol
    • , Sanne Schoffelen
    •  &  Knud J. Jensen
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Cysteine side chains are reactive sites of protein synthesis and modification. Here, the authors show that tuning palladium chemoselectivity allows for selective removal of several cysteine protection groups, and use their method to synthesize challenging protein analogues.

    • Muhammad Jbara
    • , Shay Laps
    • , Michael Morgan
    • , Guy Kamnesky
    • , Guy Mann
    • , Cynthia Wolberger
    •  &  Ashraf Brik
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Mechanical force can facilitate thermodynamically unfavourable reactions. Here, the authors found that a stretching force can promote the SN2 cleavage of a protein disulfide bond by weak nucleophilic thiols, and that removing this force reverses the reaction yielding the original disulfide bond.

    • Amy E. M. Beedle
    • , Marc Mora
    • , Colin T. Davis
    • , Ambrosius P. Snijders
    • , Guillaume Stirnemann
    •  &  Sergi Garcia-Manyes
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Biomarkers are natural indicators of some biological conditions, often used in diagnostics. Here, the authors developed a biosensor that continuously measures concentrations of DNA or protein biomarkers, and is based on particles that change mobility by directly interacting with individual molecules.

    • Emiel W. A. Visser
    • , Junhong Yan
    • , Leo J. van IJzendoorn
    •  &  Menno W. J. Prins

Johannes Kreutzer

  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Covalent organic frameworks (COFs) find increasing application as sensor material, but fast switching solvatochromism was not realized. Here the authors demonstrate that combination of electron-rich and -deficient building blocks leads to COFs which fast and reversibly change of their electronic structure depending on the surrounding atmosphere.

    • Laura Ascherl
    • , Emrys W. Evans
    • , Matthias Hennemann
    • , Daniele Di Nuzzo
    • , Alexander G. Hufnagel
    • , Michael Beetz
    • , Richard H. Friend
    • , Timothy Clark
    • , Thomas Bein
    •  &  Florian Auras
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Water uptake of natural polymers is accompanied by swelling and changes in the internal structure of the polymeric system but the exact mechanism of water-uptake and swelling remained unknown. Here the authors use atom-scale simulations to identify a molecular mechanism which is responsible for hysteresis in sorption-induced swelling in natural polymers.

    • Mingyang Chen
    • , Benoit Coasne
    • , Robert Guyer
    • , Dominique Derome
    •  &  Jan Carmeliet
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Liquid crystalline elastomers (LCE) exhibit shape transformation when subjected to various stimuli, but the achievable thickness of LCE films is limited. Here the authors demonstrate arbitrarily thick LCE films that are continuous in composition and maintain the director orientation, prescribed into the material.

    • Tyler Guin
    • , Michael J. Settle
    • , Benjamin A. Kowalski
    • , Anesia D. Auguste
    • , Richard V. Beblo
    • , Gregory W. Reich
    •  &  Timothy J. White
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Subtractive manufacturing of microstructures is important for many applications, yet photoresists for 3D laser lithography allow only removal after development under harsh cleavage conditions. Here, the authors introduce a set of chemoselective cleavable photoresists allowing the orthogonal cleavage of microstructures under mild conditions.

    • David Gräfe
    • , Andreas Wickberg
    • , Markus Michael Zieger
    • , Martin Wegener
    • , Eva Blasco
    •  &  Christopher Barner-Kowollik
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Nitrogen-vacancy (NV) centers in diamonds are used for quantum sensing but NV centers are not sensitive to parameters such as temperature, pressure and biomolecules. Here the authors propose a scheme based on a magnetic nanoparticle docked responsive hydrogel which acts as a transducer between the particles and the diamond.

    • Ting Zhang
    • , Gang-Qin Liu
    • , Weng-Hang Leong
    • , Chu-Feng Liu
    • , Man-Hin Kwok
    • , To Ngai
    • , Ren-Bao Liu
    •  &  Quan Li
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Polymers cross-linked with dynamic bonds can switch the phase from solid to fluid upon stimulus but return quickly to the solid state once the stimulus is removed. Here the authors report a light triggered permanent solid to fluid transition at room temperature with inherent spatiotemporal control in either direction

    • Brady T. Worrell
    • , Matthew K. McBride
    • , Gayla B. Lyon
    • , Lewis M. Cox
    • , Chen Wang
    • , Sudheendran Mavila
    • , Chern-Hooi Lim
    • , Hannah M. Coley
    • , Charles B. Musgrave
    • , Yifu Ding
    •  &  Christopher N. Bowman

Prabhjot Saini

  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    A possible route to producing processable soft materials is by assembling metal organic cubes into hydrogels. Here the authors show charge-assisted H-bond driven self-assembly of Ga3+-based anionic metal organic cubes and suitable molecular binders towards multi-functional hydrogels.

    • Papri Sutar
    • , Venkata M. Suresh
    • , Kolleboyina Jayaramulu
    • , Arpan Hazra
    •  &  Tapas Kumar Maji
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Control over mechanochemical polymer scission by external stimuli may offer an avenue to further advance the fields of polymer chemistry, mechanochemistry, and materials science. Here the authors show light regulating the mechanochemical behavior of a diarylethene-conjugated Diels–Alder adduct.

    • Jumpei Kida
    • , Keiichi Imato
    • , Raita Goseki
    • , Daisuke Aoki
    • , Masakazu Morimoto
    •  &  Hideyuki Otsuka
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    The synthesis of polyethylene furanoate, a promising renewable resource-based bioplastic, still has challenges. Here the authors show that bottle-grade polyethylene furanoate can be obtained within minutes from ring-opening polymerisation of its cyclic oligomers, thereby avoiding degradation and discolouration.

    • Jan-Georg Rosenboom
    • , Diana Kay Hohl
    • , Peter Fleckenstein
    • , Giuseppe Storti
    •  &  Massimo Morbidelli
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Combining solid-like properties with fast self-healing is a great challenge due to slow diffusion dynamics. Here the authors demonstrate a rigid and healable material by using weak but abundant coordination bonds to crosslink a PDMS polymer.

    • Jian-Cheng Lai
    • , Lan Li
    • , Da-Peng Wang
    • , Min-Hao Zhang
    • , Sheng-Ran Mo
    • , Xue Wang
    • , Ke-Yu Zeng
    • , Cheng-Hui Li
    • , Qing Jiang
    • , Xiao-Zeng You
    •  &  Jing-Lin Zuo
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    The synthesis of polymers with on-demand sequence structures is difficult but highly desirable. Here the authors show a dual switchable and controlled interconvertible polymerization involving two orthogonal polymerizations that are switched ON/OFF independent of each other with an external stimulus.

    • Ze Zhang
    • , Tian-You Zeng
    • , Lei Xia
    • , Chun-Yan Hong
    • , De-Cheng Wu
    •  &  Ye-Zi You