Volume 3 Issue 10, October 2011

Volume 3 Issue 10

The cover shows a dynamic supramolecular system built by Sugawara and co-workers, in which the self-reproduction of vesicle compartments is linked to the replication of encapsulated DNA. Externally added membrane precursors are taken up by the vesicles and converted into membrane molecules, enabling the vesicles to grow and divide. Vesicles within which DNA is amplified undergo rapid and sequential divisions, distributing newly formed DNA to daughter vesicles. This represents a promising approach for the construction of a minimal cell.Article p775IMAGE: NEWTON PRESS, JAPANCOVER DESIGN: ALEX WING


  • Commentary |

    An open-source approach to the problem of producing an off-patent drug in enantiopure form serves as an example of how academic and industrial researchers can join forces to make new scientific discoveries that could have a huge impact on human health.

    • Michael Woelfle
    • , Piero Olliaro
    •  & Matthew H. Todd


  • Thesis |

    Two constitutional isomers with exceptionally similar structures have had very different impacts in chemistry and beyond. With this example, Bruce Gibb highlights just how difficult it is to predict how much a particular compound or piece of chemical research will contribute to society, especially in the short term.

    • Bruce C. Gibb

Research Highlights


News and Views

  • News & Views |

    Mechanical unfolding of a single DNA G-quadruplex structure with and without a stabilizing ligand can be used to calculate the binding strength of the ligand and could help to identify drugs to target these important biological assemblies.

    • Micah J. McCauley
    •  & Mark C. Williams
  • News & Views |

    The self-reproduction of a giant lipid vesicle has been linked to the replication of encapsulated DNA — a promising combination for the construction of a minimalistic synthetic cell.

    • Pier Luigi Luisi
    •  & Pasquale Stano
  • News & Views |

    Iridium complexes can show impressive homogeneous water-oxidation activity, but they can also act as precursors to heterogeneous catalysts. Understanding exactly what the catalytically active species is can be difficult, but now a technique has been applied that reveals the true nature of a catalyst, helping to remove this ambiguity.

    • Thomas J. Meyer
  • News & Views |

    Solid-state science and technology in the twentieth century was defined by the transistor and the integrated circuit. Will the quest for a quantum spin liquid, which is inspired by theoretical and experimental advances, spawn the information technology of tomorrow?

    • Kenneth R. Poeppelmeier
    •  & Masaki Azuma
  • News & Views |

    Transient sedimentation of proteins inside a solid-state NMR rotor under fast magic-angle spinning offers a promising solution to the challenge of determining the structures of high-molecular-weight proteins with atomic resolution. This opens new opportunities for structural analysis of large macromolecules and macromolecular assemblies.

    • Tatyana Polenova
  • News & Views |

    A (hydroxo)oxoiron(V) oxidant has been implicated in cis-dihydroxylation reactions catalysed by Rieske dioxygenases and biomimetic non-haem iron complexes, but with only indirect proof of its existence. Variable-temperature mass spectrometry now provides persuasive evidence for just such a reactive intermediate in a synthetic system.

    • Aidan R. McDonald
    •  & Lawrence Que Jr


  • Review Article |

    Photosynthesis starts when light is absorbed and the associated excitation energy is directed to reaction centres by antenna complexes. The principles learned from studying these complexes are described in this Review, and provide the framework from which the authors suggest how to elucidate strategies for designing light-harvesting systems that route the flow of energy in sophisticated ways.

    • Gregory D. Scholes
    • , Graham R. Fleming
    • , Alexandra Olaya-Castro
    •  & Rienk van Grondelle


  • Article |

    The self-replication process of a giant vesicle encapsulating double-stranded DNA has been observed, which represents a supramolecular approach to the construction of a protocell. Growth and division of the vesicle occurred rapidly on addition of a membrane precursor, and amplified DNA was distributed amongst the resulting daughter giant vesicles.

    • Kensuke Kurihara
    • , Mieko Tamura
    • , Koh-ichiroh Shohda
    • , Taro Toyota
    • , Kentaro Suzuki
    •  & Tadashi Sugawara
  • Article |

    G-quadruplex structures in telomeric DNA inhibit the action of telomerase — an enzyme over-expressed in many cancer cells. Small molecules that stabilize the formation of G-quadruplex structures are therefore of interest as potential cancer treatments. Here, a platform is described that allows the interactions between small-molecule ligands and human telomeric G-quadruplexes to be measured at the single-molecule level.

    • Deepak Koirala
    • , Soma Dhakal
    • , Beth Ashbridge
    • , Yuta Sannohe
    • , Raphaël Rodriguez
    • , Hiroshi Sugiyama
    • , Shankar Balasubramanian
    •  & Hanbin Mao
  • Article |

    Variable-temperature mass spectrometry, isotopic labelling and computational analysis have been used to characterize a metastable non-haem oxo-iron(V) intermediate generated at cryogenic temperatures, as well as to study its cis-dihydroxylation reaction with olefins. The study provides experimental evidence for the existence of this powerful and biologically important oxidant, under conditions relevant to catalysis.

    • Irene Prat
    • , Jennifer S. Mathieson
    • , Mireia Güell
    • , Xavi Ribas
    • , Josep M. Luis
    • , Leroy Cronin
    •  & Miquel Costas
  • Article |

    Adding one further base pair to the classic Watson–Crick scheme not only expands the genetic code but also offers opportunities to modify the structure and function of DNA. It has now been shown that an artificial metal–salen base pair can be enzymatically incorporated into DNA duplexes and even amplified by PCR.

    • Corinna Kaul
    • , Markus Müller
    • , Mirko Wagner
    • , Sabine Schneider
    •  & Thomas Carell
  • Article |

    Candidates for 'quantum spin liquid' materials are rare and often composed of two-dimensional kagome arrays of d 9 centres. Analogous systems based on d1 metal ions may confer different properties, but there are no previously known examples. An inorganic–organic hybrid vanadium d1 material has now been prepared that seems to be an excellent candidate for a spin-liquid ground state.

    • Farida H. Aidoudi
    • , David W. Aldous
    • , Richard J. Goff
    • , Alexandra M. Z. Slawin
    • , J. Paul Attfield
    • , Russell E. Morris
    •  & Philip Lightfoot
  • Article |

    One of the bottlenecks for the development of sustainable artificial photosynthesis is the water oxidation reaction, which too often relies on expensive and toxic metals. Now, coordination complexes of readily available, environmentally benign iron are found to catalyse homogeneous water oxidation to O2 with high efficiency.

    • Julio Lloret Fillol
    • , Zoel Codolà
    • , Isaac Garcia-Bosch
    • , Laura Gómez
    • , Juan José Pla
    •  & Miquel Costas
  • Article |

    Well-defined molecular polyhydrides composed of two substantially different types of metals — such as rare-earth and d transition metals — are interesting both in terms of structure and potential properties, but have been largely unexplored so far. Now, a series of such hydride clusters are reported and are found to exhibit unprecedented structural features as well as unique hydrogen addition and release properties.

    • Takanori Shima
    • , Yi Luo
    • , Timothy Stewart
    • , Robert Bau
    • , Garry J. McIntyre
    • , Sax A. Mason
    •  & Zhaomin Hou
  • Article |

    A short, synthetic peptide has been prepared that mimics much of the assembly process of natural collagen. Electrostatic interactions are used to create a sticky-ended structure, which in turn self-assembles through several levels of structural hierarchy from peptide to triple helix to nanofibre and finally to hydrogel.

    • Lesley E. R. O'Leary
    • , Jorge A. Fallas
    • , Erica L. Bakota
    • , Marci K. Kang
    •  & Jeffrey D. Hartgerink

In Your Element

  • In Your Element |

    Beginning with its origins as the archetypal and eponymously elusive rare-earth element, Dante Gatteschi explains why dysprosium and other lanthanides have cornered the market in molecular magnetism.

    • Dante Gatteschi