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The catalytic replacement of a carbon–hydrogen bond with a carbon–carbon bond is an attractive strategy for building organic molecules. In this week’s issue, Frances Arnold and her colleagues report that a cytochrome P450 enzyme can be evolved to perform this transformation efficiently within bacteria. Their iron-haem enzymes catalyse carbene insertion into sp3 hybridized C–H bonds, and deliver alkylated products with high enantioselectivity. The team’s results highlight that iron can be used to achieve this challenging reaction, indicating that this metal could replace less abundant elements, such as rhodium and iridium, that have previously been used for such functionalization. Although nature’s chemical repertoire does not include carbene C–H insertion, an existing enzyme produced within a microbe can be modified to perform these abiological reactions.
Cover image: Lei Chen/California Institute of Technology
Many enzymatic processes involve a mechanism in which reaction intermediates are covalently attached to the enzyme’s active site. A strategy has been devised that enables mimics of these intermediates to be visualized.
Antibodies have been engineered to recognize diverse strains of influenza, including both the A and B types of virus that cause human epidemics. Are we moving closer to achieving ‘universal’ protection against all flu strains?
Methane produced in sediments beneath the Greenland Ice Sheet is released to the atmosphere by meltwater in the summer. This suggests that glacial melt could be an important global source of this greenhouse gas.
In materials called Weyl semimetals, electrons form structures that have distinct topological properties. The discovery of an ultrafast switch between two of these structures could have many practical applications.
The signalling molecule nitric oxide protects the kidneys by reprogramming metabolism, and its levels are regulated by a two-component system in mice. These findings identify new targets for drug discovery.
A scalable spintronic device operating via spin–orbit transduction and magnetoelectric switching and using advanced quantum materials shows non-volatility and improved performance and energy efficiency compared with CMOS devices.
Cryo-electron microscopy structures and dynamics of a substrate-engaged human 26S proteasome reveal in atomic detail three principal modes of coordinated ATP hydrolysis that regulate different steps in the degradation of a ubiquitylated protein.
Direct observation of incommensurate spin correlations in doped and spin-imbalanced Hubbard chains confirms two fundamental predictions for Luttinger liquids and shows that such correlations are suppressed by interchain coupling.
Misexpression of the sperm-cell-expressed transcription factor BABY BOOM1 in the rice egg cell induces embryo development without fertilization, establishing the feasibility of asexual reproduction in crops and potentially enabling the clonal propagation of hybrids through seeds.
Phenotypically, transcriptionally and metabolically diverse subsets of TH17 cells develop in a chronic autoimmune disease: one subset has inferred stemness features and low anabolic metabolism, while a reciprocal subset has higher metabolic activity that supports transdifferentiation into TH1 cells.
A method for encoding the non-canonical amino acid 2,3-diaminopropionate into proteins allows key acyl intermediates in the biosynthesis of valinomycin to be trapped, providing insight into the oligomerization and cyclization reactions involved.
A subnanometre-resolution cryo-electron microscopy structure of the Rh5–CyRPA–Ripr complex of Plasmodium falciparum provides insights into how this ligand interacts with the receptor basigin in erythrocyte hosts.