Latest Reviews

  • Review Article |

    Owing to their programmable ability to cut specific nucleic acid sequences, CRISPR–Cas systems have been used for precise genome engineering. In this Review, the authors discuss the chemistry and molecular mechanisms of interference by single-effector CRISPR–Cas proteins.

    • Janice S. Chen
    •  & Jennifer A. Doudna
  • Review Article |

    This Review considers cascade reactions initiated by single electron transfer. Open-shell intermediates are highly reactive but undergo reactions with high selectivity. They are thus ideal intermediates in cascade reactions that generate complex, high-value products from simple starting materials

    • Mateusz P. Plesniak
    • , Huan-Ming Huang
    •  & David J. Procter
  • Review Article |

    Aptamers are nucleic acid molecules that can be evolved to bind to specific molecular targets and have found applications in technologies such as sensors and actuators. This Review provides a critical analysis of the first 25 years of aptamer research.

    • Matthew R. Dunn
    • , Randi M. Jimenez
    •  & John C. Chaput
  • Perspective |

    The unusual electronic characteristics of boron atoms lead boron clusters to adopt a wide variety of structural arrangements, most of which are 2D. This Perspective discusses the possibility of expanding the range of boron-based 2D structures by metal doping, as well as the use of the resulting clusters for conceptualizing metalloborophenes.

    • Wan-Lu Li
    • , Xin Chen
    • , Tian Jian
    • , Teng-Teng Chen
    • , Jun Li
    •  & Lai-Sheng Wang
  • Review Article |

    DNA polymerases are responsible for DNA replication, repair and mutation. Although these processes occur through conserved mechanisms, this Review highlights how large differences in the fidelity of DNA replication arise from subtle structural differences between individual DNA polymerases. These differences enable polymerases to perform diverse functions that are important to nature as well as technology.

    • Wen-Jin Wu
    • , Wei Yang
    •  & Ming-Daw Tsai
  • Perspective |

    The unique properties of ferrocene-containing compounds make them useful for treating many diseases. The most notable drug candidates — the antimalarial ferroquine and the anticancer agent ferrocifen — have been studied for more than two decades but have not yet met clinical approval. This Review describes the design of ferrocene-containing drugs as well as the challenges faced in bringing them into clinical use.

    • Malay Patra
    •  & Gilles Gasser
  • Review Article |

    Research into naturally occurring chemically modified DNA bases has been invigorated by new chemical and enzymatic methods that, when coupled with sequencing approaches, enable us to detect and decode them. These techniques will support a better understanding of the role of chemically modified DNA bases in normal physiology and disease.

    • Eun-Ang Raiber
    • , Robyn Hardisty
    • , Pieter van Delft
    •  & Shankar Balasubramanian
  • Perspective |

    The cross-electrophile coupling approach to stereocontrolled C–C bond formation provides a complementary alternative to traditional cross-coupling methods. This Perspective provides an overview of the recent development of nickel-catalysed asymmetric cross-electrophile coupling reactions. Both stereoconvergent and stereospecific examples are considered and mechanistic details are highlighted.

    • Erika L. Lucas
    •  & Elizabeth R. Jarvo
  • Review Article |

    The active template approach to interlocked molecules uses metal ions to both pre-organize reaction components and catalyse the final covalent bond formation that captures the interlocked structure. This Review looks at the history of the method, its application in the synthesis of ever more complex interlocked molecules and future directions.

    • Mathieu Denis
    •  & Stephen M. Goldup
  • Review Article |

    Surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) is a physical phenomenon first discovered in 1974. SERS has since been exploited for bioanalysis because of its high sensitivity and multiplexing capabilities. This Review describes the progress made and problems faced with respect to using in vivo SERS in humans.

    • Stacey Laing
    • , Lauren E. Jamieson
    • , Karen Faulds
    •  & Duncan Graham
  • Review Article |

    Polymeric nanomaterials have a rich history of applications in the selective delivery of small-molecule drugs to their biological targets. This Review discusses the evolution of drug delivery using such polymers and explores how these approaches have evolved in parallel with the ability to prepare ever more architecturally complex macromolecular structures.

    • Ashok Kakkar
    • , Giovanni Traverso
    • , Omid C. Farokhzad
    • , Ralph Weissleder
    •  & Robert Langer
  • Perspective |

    Bis(β-diketiminato)dimagnesium(I) complexes are low-valent reagents that can each deliver two electrons in a selective and stoichiometric manner. Easily handled and dissolved, these species effect reduction of many inorganic and unsaturated organic substrates. This Perspective covers the development of magnesium(I) dimers and the scope of their reactivity.

    • Cameron Jones
  • Review Article |

    An untargeted mass spectrometry analysis of a biological sample will detect both biological molecules and compounds that are derived from, for example, diet and the environment. This Review examines the design of such experiments, how to process and interpret the vast amount of data that are produced, and how far we are from being able to use mass spectrometry to inventory the world around us.

    • Alexander A. Aksenov
    • , Ricardo da Silva
    • , Rob Knight
    • , Norberto P. Lopes
    •  & Pieter C. Dorrestein
  • Perspective |

    Covalent organic frameworks (COFs) have potential applications in, for example, gas storage and separation. The pore sizes in these materials are tunable by selection of the building blocks, and materials with multiple pore sizes are desirable. This Perspective considers synthetic approaches to 2D COFs that rely on tessellation to prepare such multiporous materials.

    • Yinghua Jin
    • , Yiming Hu
    •  & Wei Zhang
  • Review Article |

    Transition metal catalysis is well established as an enabling tool in synthetic organic chemistry. Photoredox catalysis has recently emerged as a method to effect reactions that occur through single-electron-transfer pathways. Here we review the combination of the two to show how this provides access to highly reactive oxidation states of transition metals and distinct activation modes that further enable the synthetic chemist.

    • Jack Twilton
    • , Chi (Chip) Le
    • , Patricia Zhang
    • , Megan H. Shaw
    • , Ryan W. Evans
    •  & David W. C. MacMillan
  • Review Article |

    Enzymes that are optimized for low temperatures have characteristics that are distinct from those that operate under milder conditions. This Review examines cold-adapted enzymes and describes how computational studies have highlighted structural and energetic consequences that arise from adaptation to cold environments.

    • Johan Åqvist
    • , Geir Villy Isaksen
    •  & Bjørn Olav Brandsdal
  • Review Article |

    Synaptic vesicles participate in neuronal communication by storing and releasing neurotransmitter molecules. The neurotransmitters can be detected using electrochemistry and mass spectrometry, and vesicle structural elements can be detected by super-resolution microscopy. This Review describes these analytical techniques and how they unravel the mechanisms of cell communication.

    • Nhu T. N. Phan
    • , Xianchan Li
    •  & Andrew G. Ewing
  • Review Article |

    Many methods exist for the recycling of plastic solid waste. Chemical recycling, which can take many forms from high-temperature pyrolysis to mild, solution-based catalytic depolymerization, can afford enormous economic and environmental benefits. This Review covers the state of the art in chemical recycling and the design of high-performance polymers amenable to such processes.

    • AliReza Rahimi
    •  & Jeannette M. García
  • Review Article |

    Although it is a fundamental property of many small molecules, chirality is not widely exploited in materials applications as its benefits are not widely recognized — indeed, the need for stereoselective synthesis may be seen as a disadvantage. In this Review, we highlight recent research in which chirality has had an enabling impact in technological applications.

    • Jochen R. Brandt
    • , Francesco Salerno
    •  & Matthew J. Fuchter
  • Perspective |

    Quadruplex DNA structures were first observed more than 50 years ago, but have only relatively recently attracted interest for their role in the development of cancer. This Perspective considers attempts to selectively bind and stabilize these structures using small molecules, with the aim of developing anticancer therapeutics.

    • Stephen Neidle
  • Review Article |

    Homogenous transition metal electrocatalysts are topical owing to their role in processing electrical energy and mediating the synthesis of chemical fuels. Mechanisms can be uncovered using electrochemical techniques and data analyses, along with complementary spectroscopic techniques. This Review presents case studies highlighting the utility of these methods in the context of electrocatalysis for chemical fuel production.

    • Katherine J. Lee
    • , Noémie Elgrishi
    • , Banu Kandemir
    •  & Jillian L. Dempsey
  • Review Article |

    The disconnection of C–H and C–C bonds is an efficient approach to functionalize organic molecules. Particularly useful are transformations in which these two cleavage reactions operate in tandem. This Review describes this tandem strategy and provides examples of its application in synthetic chemistry.

    • Zackaria Nairoukh
    • , Morgan Cormier
    •  & Ilan Marek
  • Review Article |

    The counterfeiting of goods has economic implications and is a threat to health and security. One promising solution for product authentication is the incorporation of physical unclonable functions. This Review delineates how stochastic chemical processes can afford unique anti-counterfeiting tags that cannot be reproduced.

    • Riikka Arppe
    •  & Thomas Just Sørensen
  • Perspective |

    The technological progress made since the industrial revolution has brought with it one of our greatest challenges: how to power our world while also minimizing environmental harm. This Perspective highlights the important role that quantum chemistry has in sustainable energy research.

    • Johannes M. Dieterich
    •  & Emily A. Carter