Volume 7 Issue 1, January 2015

Volume 7 Issue 1

Some short peptides are known to self-assemble into well-defined nanostructures that may prove useful in applications ranging from food and cosmetics to biomedicine and photonics. Now, Rein Ulijn, Tell Tuttle and co-workers have used a computational approach to predict the self-assembly properties of all 8,000 tripeptides that can be made from the 20 canonical amino acids (as shown conceptually on the cover — the background image is a matrix that represents the aggregation propensity of each tripeptide). The most promising candidates were then studied experimentally, leading to the discovery of new tripeptide hydrogelators (such as KYF) that do not contain protecting groups. Scrabble © JHPhoto/AlamyArticle p30;News & Views p14IMAGE: PIM FREDERIX AND TELL TUTTLECOVER DESIGN: ALEX WING


  • Commentary |

    Developing cleaner chemical processes often involves sophisticated flow-chemistry equipment that is not available in many economically developing countries. For reactions where it is the data that are important rather than the physical product, the networking of chemists across the internet to allow remote experimentation offers a viable solution to this problem.

    • Ryan A. Skilton
    • , Richard A. Bourne
    • , Zacharias Amara
    • , Raphael Horvath
    • , Jing Jin
    • , Michael J. Scully
    • , Emilia Streng
    • , Samantha L. Y. Tang
    • , Peter A. Summers
    • , Jiawei Wang
    • , Eduardo Pérez
    • , Nigist Asfaw
    • , Guilherme L. P. Aydos
    • , Jairton Dupont
    • , Gurbuz Comak
    • , Michael W. George
    •  & Martyn Poliakoff


Research Highlights


News and Views

  • News & Views |

    A combined experimental and theoretical study of the biosynthesis of a family of antibacterial natural products has uncovered some of the finer details of unusual stereoselectivity observed in a peptide cyclization.

    • Bryan Jones
    •  & Romas J. Kazlauskas
  • News & Views |

    The photoinduced production of hydrogen from HCl is an attractive alternative to water splitting. Insights into this challenging reaction have now been gained using photocrystallography, which provides a snapshot of the structural changes occurring during the elimination of chlorine from a dinuclear rhodium catalyst.

    • Haifeng Yang
    •  & François P. Gabbaï
  • News & Views |

    Short peptides are among the most intriguing building blocks in nanotechnology, but it would be very challenging to experimentally study the properties of large numbers of different sequences. Now, a computational analysis of all 8,000 possible tripeptides has been used to identify those with interesting self-assembly behaviour.

    • Ehud Gazit
  • News & Views |

    Creating chemical systems that can model living systems is far from easy. However, the evolution of oil droplets in water through the application of artificial selective pressure to produce droplets with dramatically different — yet specific — behaviours, is an encouraging step in this direction.

    • Andrew J. Bissette
    •  & Stephen P. Fletcher
  • News & Views |

    DNA self-assembly has previously been used to create channel-like structures that can penetrate through lipid bilayer membranes. However, such assemblies have not been shown to cause cell death before. Now a DNA nanopore has been shown to exert a cytotoxic effect when administered to cells.

    • Swati Krishnan
    •  & Friedrich C. Simmel


  • Review Article |

    Energy storage using batteries offers a solution to the intermittent nature of energy production from renewable sources; however, such technology must be sustainable. This Review discusses battery development from a sustainability perspective, considering the energy and environmental costs of state-of-the-art Li-ion batteries and the design of new systems beyond Li-ion. Images: batteries, car, globe: © iStock/Thinkstock.

    • D. Larcher
    •  & J-M. Tarascon


  • Article |

    Peptides that self-assemble into nanostructures are of interest for many applications, including ones relevant to cosmetics, food, biomedicine and nanotechnology. Now, computational tools have been developed that enable peptide sequence space to be rapidly searched for supramolecular properties and this approach has been used to identify unprotected tripeptide hydrogelators.

    • Pim W. J. M. Frederix
    • , Gary G. Scott
    • , Yousef M. Abul-Haija
    • , Daniela Kalafatovic
    • , Charalampos G. Pappas
    • , Nadeem Javid
    • , Neil T. Hunt
    • , Rein V. Ulijn
    •  & Tell Tuttle
  • Article |

    Amines are essential in a number of research areas, but a general, selective and step-efficient synthesis has been elusive. Now, the use of a single copper catalyst to transform alkynes into enamines, α-chiral branched alkylamines, and linear alkylamines is described. These transformations have been applied in the preparation of a selection of current pharmaceutical agents.

    • Shi-Liang Shi
    •  & Stephen L. Buchwald
  • Article |

    Modifying or functionalizing transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDs) allows their properties to be altered and controlled. Now, non-defect-mediated covalent functionalization of single-layer semiconducting TMDs such as MoS2, WS2 and MoSe2 has been demonstrated by reacting them with organohalides, utilizing the excess charge in the 1T metallic phase.

    • Damien Voiry
    • , Anandarup Goswami
    • , Rajesh Kappera
    • , Cecilia de Carvalho Castro e Silva
    • , Daniel Kaplan
    • , Takeshi Fujita
    • , Mingwei Chen
    • , Tewodros Asefa
    •  & Manish Chhowalla
  • Article |

    The maximum attainable capacity of the Li–O2 battery is limited by the passivation of its cathode by electronically insulating Li2O2. It is now shown that electrolyte additives, which activate solution-mediated growth of Li2O2, make it possible to circumvent this fundamental limitation, leading to design rules for additive selection.

    • Nagaphani B. Aetukuri
    • , Bryan D. McCloskey
    • , Jeannette M. García
    • , Leslie E. Krupp
    • , Venkatasubramanian Viswanathan
    •  & Alan C. Luntz
  • Article |

    The stereochemical outcome of enzyme-catalysed reactions with physiological substrates is typically governed by the well-defined geometry of the enzyme active site. Now, a rare example is reported where the substrate controls the stereoselectivity of a Michael-type addition during lanthipeptide biosynthesis.

    • Weixin Tang
    • , Gonzalo Jiménez-Osés
    • , K. N. Houk
    •  & Wilfred A. van der Donk
  • Article |

    Crystals of hexachlorobenzene easily break when pressed on the (100) face, but bend to 360° without disintegrating when stress is applied on the (001) face. In the latter case this extraordinary malleability arises from the segregation and sliding of layers of molecules in the crystal, a process in which halogen–halogen interactions are broken and reformed.

    • Manas K. Panda
    • , Soumyajit Ghosh
    • , Nobuhiro Yasuda
    • , Taro Moriwaki
    • , Goutam Dev Mukherjee
    • , C. Malla Reddy
    •  & Panče Naumov
  • Article |

    A method for rapidly screening small-molecule inhibitors of amyloid assembly has been developed. This method uses electrospray ionization–ion mobility spectrometry–mass spectrometry to detect and identify the type of inhibition. A screen of this nature could help in the discovery of therapeutics for numerous diseases associated with aberrant protein aggregation.

    • Lydia M. Young
    • , Janet C. Saunders
    • , Rachel A. Mahood
    • , Charlotte H. Revill
    • , Richard J. Foster
    • , Ling-Hsien Tu
    • , Daniel P. Raleigh
    • , Sheena E. Radford
    •  & Alison E. Ashcroft
  • Article |

    The pseudopterosins are a family of natural products whose interesting anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties have inspired many synthetic approaches. Now, an unusual approach that starts with an axially chiral hydrocarbon that engages in a triple Diels–Alder sequence has been shown to result in the shortest total synthesis of a pseudopterosin so far.

    • Christopher G. Newton
    • , Samuel L. Drew
    • , Andrew L. Lawrence
    • , Anthony C. Willis
    • , Michael N. Paddon-Row
    •  & Michael S. Sherburn

In Your Element

  • In Your Element |

    Claire Hansell surveys the uses, past and present, for antimony, including an unusual method for 'recycling' it.

    • Claire Hansell