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  • Radium complexes are of interest for use as cancer therapeutic agents, but the structure and bonding are poorly understood. Here, the synthesis of a Ra2+ complex is reported, and the structure and bonding characteristics are elucidated using single-crystal X-ray diffraction.

    • Frankie D. White
    • Nikki A. Thiele
    • Samantha K. Cary
  • The physicochemical driving forces of protein-free, RNA-driven phase transitions were previously unclear, but it is now shown that RNAs undergo entropically driven liquid–liquid phase separation upon heating in the presence of magnesium ions. In the condensed phase, RNAs can undergo an enthalpically favourable percolation transition that leads to arrested condensates.

    • Gable M. Wadsworth
    • Walter J. Zahurancik
    • Priya R. Banerjee
  • Bottom-up assembly of protocells into networking superstructures represents a further key step towards rudimentary formation of life. Now it has been shown that a pool of biomolecules can self-organize into an interactive binary population of protocell coacervates with a self-sorting chain-like configuration, allowing for biomolecular extraction, translocation and macroscale separation.

    • Wenjing Mu
    • Liyan Jia
    • Yan Qiao
  • Open-shell organic molecules with properties that can be modulated by external stimuli are of interest for spintronics applications. Now, an overcrowded alkene with open-shell tetraradical character has been synthesized in which the interaction between the π-conjugated subunits depends on the charge and spin state.

    • Yoshito Tobe
    News & Views
  • Site-specific modification of RNA in cells is crucial for analysis and functional investigations. Natural enzymes that promote RNA methylation using S-adenosyl-l-methionine (SAM) exist, but leveraging these proteins for RNA modification is limited by cell permeability, stability and specificity of their substrates. Now, a de novo ribozyme that acts on a stabilized and cell-permeable SAM analogue enables site-specific RNA modification with a click handle in living cells.

    • Nicolas V. Cornelissen
    • Andrea Rentmeister
    News & Views
  • Fluorination strategies are important in assisting the synthesis of pharmaceuticals. Iodine(I/III) catalysis has become particularly useful for installing gem-difluoro groups but is limited to styrenes. Now, the hypervalent iodane-catalysed difluorination of enynes has enabled access to diverse homopropargylic difluorides.

    • Rachel C. Epplin
    • Tanja Gulder
    News & Views
  • Didier Astruc surveys the numerous applications of ferrocene, from catalysis to materials and redox-related devices including biosensors and nanomedicine.

    • Didier Astruc
    In Your Element
  • Organic chemists meet biennially to present exciting developments in the realm of synthesis. Thomas Barber discusses the standout themes of this year’s international synthesis in organic chemistry symposium.

    • Thomas Barber
    Meeting Report
  • The bicyclo[1.1.1]pentane (BCP) motif has drawn increasing attention recently in drug discovery. Now, a programmable bis-functionalization strategy has been developed to modularly access bridge-substituted BCP scaffolds, based on the inherent chemoselectivity of BCP bis-boronates (3° > 2°). This strategy should enable further structure–activity relationship studies of BCP-containing drug candidates and open the door to unexplored chemical space.

    • Yangyang Yang
    • Jet Tsien
    • Tian Qin
  • Although exciplex-forming systems are widely used for fabricating organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs), their structural and thermodynamic characterization is limited. Now donor/acceptor inclusion complexes that demonstrate thermally activated delayed fluorescence have been generated. Their cocrystal structures have been resolved and the thermodynamics of exciplex formation determined, which has enabled the fabrication of efficient OLEDs.

    • Chun-Yen Lin
    • Chao-Hsien Hsu
    • Pi-Tai Chou
  • Detecting genetic mutations, such as single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), is essential for disease diagnostics but can be difficult using homomultivalent DNA hybridization-based approaches. Now, heteromultivalent hybridization is used to fine-tune binding specificity for the detection of one or two SNPs in a single target, enabling straightforward discrimination between adjacent and distant mutations and different viral strains.

    • Brendan R. Deal
    • Rong Ma
    • Khalid Salaita
  • Gas bubble accumulation at interfaces is a barrier to achieving more efficient electrochemical devices. A clever model system to understand bubble formation during electrochemical hydrogen evolution now reveals similarities between the forces at play during their detachment from the catalyst surface and those involved in wine climbing up a glass.

    • Gaurav Ashish Kamat
    • Michaela Burke Stevens
    News & Views
  • Surface heterogeneity is generally acknowledged as the major cause of liquid–solid friction, affecting whether droplets slide off the surface or stick to it. Now, a model surface of self-assembled monolayers has been used to investigate how molecular-scale surface heterogeneity affects water contact angle hysteresis and contact line friction. The high-coverage hydrophobic surface is slippery, as—counter-intuitively—is the low-coverage hydrophilic surface.

    • Sakari Lepikko
    • Ygor Morais Jaques
    • Robin H. A. Ras
    ArticleOpen Access
  • Nucleoside diphosphates and triphosphates impact nearly every aspect of biochemistry. Now, a modular, reagent-based platform has been developed to enable the stereocontrolled and scalable synthesis of a library of such molecules. This operationally simple approach provides access to pure stereoisomers of nucleoside α-thiodiphosphates and α-thiotriphosphates.

    • Hai-Jun Zhang
    • Michał Ociepa
    • Phil S. Baran
  • Hypervalent iodine catalysis remains a powerful method to enable geminal difluoromethylenation of alkenes. However, the scope is mainly limited to styrene derivatives. Now, enynes have been validated as competent substrates where a formal 1,2-shift of the alkyne occurs, thereby enabling highly versatile homopropargylic difluorides to be generated.

    • Zi-Xuan Wang
    • Keith Livingstone
    • Ryan Gilmour
    ArticleOpen Access
  • Aromatic oligoamide macrocycles have been developed in which the constrained backbone enforces hydrogen-bond donors to orient towards the macrocycle centre, forming a highly electropositive cavity. These macrocycles show strong binding for various anions and can partition into biomembranes to facilitate selective transmembrane anion transport.

    Research Briefing
  • Effective synthetic anion receptors are challenging to design. Now, star-shaped macrocycles, with a cavity defined by multiple convergent amide NH and phenyl CH groups, have been synthesized in one pot from their monomeric building blocks. These macrocycles strongly bind a variety of anions, selectively transport chloride across cell membranes and restore the function of cystic fibrosis cells.

    • Ruikai Cao
    • Robert B. Rossdeutcher
    • Bing Gong