Reviews & Analysis

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  • Although critically important for protein function, post-translational modifications are complex and notoriously difficult to study. Now, the effects of O-GlcNAcylation on chaperone activity and the accompanying inhibition of amyloid fibril formation have been revealed, potentially yielding new routes to combat neurodegeneration.

    • Sheena E. Radford
    • Theodoros K. Karamanos
    News & Views
  • The continuous monitoring of proteins is a current challenge in medical diagnostics. A new electrochemical approach aiming to address this has been described. The method uses antibodies as a recognition element to achieve the real-time measurement of proteins in saliva in the mouth.

    • Kevin J. Cash
    • Kevin W. Plaxco
    News & Views
  • A complex containing the unstable isotope 254Es has been synthesized on a nanogram scale. Analysis of the fundamental bonding and spectroscopic characteristics of this einsteinium compound shows a blue shift of Es(iii) luminescence upon complexation, and the ligand serves as an antenna to sensitize the excited state.

    • Louise S. Natrajan
    • Stephen Faulkner
    News & Views
  • Controlling reactions between molecules is a major fundamental goal in chemistry and doing so on the level of individual quantum states is very challenging. Now, control over the reactant state and full characterization of the product-state distribution of an ultracold bimolecular reaction has been demonstrated.

    • Andreas Osterwalder
    News & Views
  • Small-molecule drug discovery and development is limited by the ability of chemists to readily synthesize and purify new compounds with suitable chemical diversity. Now, a new twist on solid-phase chemical synthesis has enabled rapid and simplified synthesis of pharmaceutically relevant small molecules.

    • Mark S. Kerr
    • Kevin P. Cole
    News & Views
  • Aromatic hydrocarbon belts consisting of fully fused benzenoid rings have fascinated scientists for over half a century. This Review revisits the protracted historical background of these compounds and features some recent breakthroughs in their rational design and synthesis, including the challenges faced in the precise synthesis of carbon-rich materials such as single-walled carbon nanotubes.

    • Qing-Hui Guo
    • Yunyan Qiu
    • J. Fraser Stoddart
    Review Article
  • The formation of all-carbon quaternary centres is a challenging problem in organic chemistry, with far-reaching implications for functional molecule discovery. Now an inventive solution has been developed, using sulfinamides as traceless linkers for an asymmetric radical Truce–Smiles rearrangement.

    • David M. Whalley
    • Michael F. Greaney
    News & Views
  • The physical properties of a liquid at an interface differ from bulk solution limits, but how this affects chemical reactivity is unclear. Now, ultrafast, surface-sensitive vibrational spectroscopy has revealed that the light-induced reaction of phenol with water is four orders of magnitude faster at the water surface than in bulk.

    • Robert A. Walker
    News & Views
  • Harnessing the unique catalytic properties of enzymes for abiotic reactions is a prized goal that has inspired a variety of approaches in enzyme design and engineering. Now, the transfer hydrogenation of ketones with silanes has been reported, catalysed by a native carbonic anhydrase.

    • Hans Martin Senn
    News & Views
  • Modelling the structure and behaviour of vesicles in cells requires liposomes with precise sizes, but producing liposomes with a narrow size distribution is challenging. An approach has now been developed to accurately size-sort liposomes in a scalable way by coating them with customized structures based on DNA nanotechnology.

    • Silvia Hernández-Ainsa
    News & Views
  • The therapeutic applications of DNAzymes are limited because of their low effectiveness in vivo. Now, a promising approach for constructing DNAzymes that show high gene-silencing efficiency in mammalian cells has been developed. This approach incorporates chemical modifications into an existing DNAzyme scaffold.

    • Yifei Zhou
    • Chuanzheng Zhou
    News & Views
  • The first two examples of zigzag carbon nanobelts have been reported. These compounds have been elusive targets for synthetic chemists for 35 years, but strategic structural modifications and mastering challenging multi-step syntheses finally brought success.

    • Birgit Esser
    • Mathias Hermann
    News & Views
  • The confined geometry of nanopores enables a wealth of chemistry and analysis to be conducted at the single-molecule scale. Yi-Lun Ying, Aleksandar P. Ivanov and Vincent Tabard-Cossa report on recent developments discussed at the 2020 Nanopore Electrochemistry Meeting.

    • Yi-Lun Ying
    • Aleksandar P. Ivanov
    • Vincent Tabard-Cossa
    Meeting Report
  • Superheavy elements are short-lived and only available on a single-atom level, making their chemical properties very challenging to study. Now, through their co-precipitation with samarium, single atoms of rutherfordium have been shown to form hydroxide complexes but not ammine ones.

    • Alexander Yakushev
    News & Views
  • The synthesis of molecular knots has been a major achievement in the field of chemical topology, but only a few relatively simple ones have been made so far. A route based on a weaving approach has now been used to make a seven-crossing knot and could offer a route to more complicated structures.

    • Dan Preston
    • Paul E. Kruger
    News & Views
  • Sophisticated drug delivery systems are as essential to modern medicine as drugs themselves. Now, polymer mechanochemistry in sonicated solutions has been used to activate drugs in three different systems. These results offer a promising approach that can be tailored to diverse molecular structures of modern pharmaceuticals.

    • Roman Boulatov
    News & Views