Volume 9 Issue 6, June 2017

Volume 9 Issue 6

Membraneless organelles formed through the phase separation of disordered proteins are involved in a variety of cellular functions. However, our understanding of the requirements for forming analogous artificial multi-component structures is limited. A team led by Nick J. Carroll and Gabriel P. López has now outlined some of the design rules for forming diverse assemblies through the phase separation of intrinsically disordered proteins within droplet microenvironments. The cover of this issue features a stylized image of a multi-layered coacervate, with each layer formed from a different protein phase.Article p509IMAGE: ELLA MARU STUDIOCOVER DESIGN: TULSI VORALIA


  • Thesis |

    Using a slide rule showed Michelle Francl where chemists' calculations are still stuck in the past.

    • Michelle Francl

News and Views

  • News & Views |

    Using chiral modifiers on the surfaces of heterogeneous catalysts is a potentially fruitful route to practical stereoselective chemistry. Now, a study of the dynamics of prochiral adsorbates on modified surfaces has shown that they can rapidly interconvert between adsorption states of different prochirality.

    • Wilfred T. Tysoe
  • News & Views |

    Natural products often serve as sources of new drugs, either directly or after synthetic modification, but site-selective functionalization of complex small molecules is challenging. Now, a method has been developed that enables selective modification of a wide range of natural products by engaging a benzyne intermediate in a variety of reaction modes.

    • Sarah Z. Tasker
    •  & Paul J. Hergenrother
  • News & Views |

    Femtochemistry, the real-time study of reactions on a timescale that captures the molecular and atomic activity involved, has traditionally been performed in the gas or liquid phase. It has now been extended to the solid state in a study that highlights how a controlled reaction environment can place steric constraints on the motions of photoproducts.

    • Giulio Cerullo
    •  & Marco Garavelli


  • Article |

    A programmable model of membraneless organelles comprised of intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs) containing sequences of low complexity has now been developed. The rules governing the assembly of archetypal IDPs into biologically inspired mixed, layered and size-controlled configurations provides a new means for understanding intracellular phase behaviour of IDPs.

    • Joseph R. Simon
    • , Nick J. Carroll
    • , Michael Rubinstein
    • , Ashutosh Chilkoti
    •  & Gabriel P. López
  • Article |

    Dissociative reactions in the solid state are prone to sample damage. Now, improved sample handling and measurement conditions enable the study of the dissociative reaction of a model triatomic system in the solid state on ultrafast timescales, revealing the significant impact of lattice coordination on the reaction pathway.

    • Rui Xian
    • , Gastón Corthey
    • , David M. Rogers
    • , Carole A. Morrison
    • , Valentyn I. Prokhorenko
    • , Stuart A. Hayes
    •  & R. J. Dwayne Miller
  • Article |

    The development of methods for the site-selective modification of natural products is a topic of contemporary investigation and importance. Now, it has been shown that benzynes produced by the hexadehydro-Diels–­Alder (HDDA) reaction react with many secondary metabolites, with a substantial preference for one of several potential pathways.

    • Sean P. Ross
    •  & Thomas R. Hoye
  • Article |

    A chiral molecule on a metal surface can set up a prochiral molecule for an enantioselective reaction step by forming a hydrogen-bonded complex that imposes a specific adsorption geometry. Time-lapsed scanning tunnelling microscopy and density functional theory studies reveal that such complexes can sometimes switch between states of opposing prochirality.

    • Guillaume Goubert
    • , Yi Dong
    • , Michael N. Groves
    • , J.-C. Lemay
    • , Bjørk Hammer
    •  & Peter H. McBreen
  • Article |

    A cytocompatible controlled radical polymerization method has now been developed that initiates polymer synthesis directly on the surface of living cells. This method achieves significantly enhanced polymer grafting and enables active manipulation of cellular phenotypes.

    • Jia Niu
    • , David J. Lunn
    • , Anusha Pusuluri
    • , Justin I. Yoo
    • , Michelle A. O'Malley
    • , Samir Mitragotri
    • , H. Tom Soh
    •  & Craig J. Hawker
  • Article |

    The first example of an asymmetric silver-catalysed intermolecular bromotrifluoromethoxylation of alkenes has been described with trifluoromethyl aryl sulfonate as a new trifluoromethoxylation reagent. This reaction is operationally simple, scalable and proceeds under mild reaction conditions, which can be applied to the late-stage trifluoromethoxylation of complex small molecules.

    • Shuo Guo
    • , Fei Cong
    • , Rui Guo
    • , Liang Wang
    •  & Pingping Tang
  • Article |

    Mono-iron hydrogenase promotes the heterolytic cleavage of H2 and subsequent hydride transfer to its organic substrate, H4MPT+, which serves as a CO2 ‘carrier’ in methanogenic pathways. Now, using an anthracene-scaffold-based approach, a synthetic model featuring enzyme-like Fe-C,N,S facial coordination has been developed. The model complex enables the bidirectional activity of H2 activation and evolution.

    • Junhyeok Seo
    • , Taylor A. Manes
    •  & Michael J. Rose
  • Article |

    The synthesis of well-defined planar polymers presents a significant challenge for chemists seeking to investigate their potential for use in emerging technologies. Now, a two-dimensional conjugated aromatic polymer has been synthesized via endogenous solid-state polymerization of pre-arranged monomers, and its performance as an organic anode in an ambient temperature sodium cell tested.

    • Wei Liu
    • , Xin Luo
    • , Yang Bao
    • , Yan Peng Liu
    • , Guo-Hong Ning
    • , Ibrahim Abdelwahab
    • , Linjun Li
    • , Chang Tai Nai
    • , Zhi Gang Hu
    • , Dan Zhao
    • , Bin Liu
    • , Su Ying Quek
    •  & Kian Ping Loh
  • Article |

    Amidation is one of the most widely utilized organic reactions for the synthesis of pharmaceuticals and functional materials. DATB, characterized by the B3NO2 heterocycle, proved to act as a superb catalyst for the direct amidation with a distinct mechanistic pathway, displaying broadened applicability to a wide range of substrates.

    • Hidetoshi Noda
    • , Makoto Furutachi
    • , Yasuko Asada
    • , Masakatsu Shibasaki
    •  & Naoya Kumagai
  • Article |

    Covalency in actinide–­ligand bonding is poorly understood compared to that in other parts of the periodic table due to the lack of experimental data. Here, pulsed electron paramagnetic resonance methods are used to directly measure the electron spin densities at coordinated ligands in molecular thorium and uranium complexes.

    • Alasdair Formanuik
    • , Ana-Maria Ariciu
    • , Fabrizio Ortu
    • , Reece Beekmeyer
    • , Andrew Kerridge
    • , Floriana Tuna
    • , Eric J. L. McInnes
    •  & David P. Mills
  • Article |

    2-aminothiazole — a hybrid of prebiotic amino acid and nucleotide precursors — sequentially accumulates and purifies glycolaldehyde and glyceraldehyde from complex mixtures in the order required for ribonucleotide synthesis, dynamically resolves glyceraldehyde from its ketose-isomer dihydroxyacetone, and provides the first strategy to select natural amino acids from abiotic aldehydes and ketones.

    • Saidul Islam
    • , Dejan-Krešimir Bučar
    •  & Matthew W. Powner
  • Article |

    The construction of diversified compound libraries from identical substrates is attractive but remains a challenge in asymmetric synthesis. Here, we demonstrate switchable regioselective [6+2], [4+2] or [2+2] cycloadditions with α′-alkylidene-2-cyclopentenones via mild aminocatalysis, producing a spectrum of chiral frameworks with high structural diversity and molecular complexity.

    • Zhi Zhou
    • , Zhou-Xiang Wang
    • , Yuan-Chun Zhou
    • , Wei Xiao
    • , Qin Ouyang
    • , Wei Du
    •  & Ying-Chun Chen
  • Article |

    NaOtBu — an alkoxide salt — enables simple access to low-oxidation-state catalysis using sustainable first-row transition metals (Fe, Co, Mn, Ni). The approach works across a wide range of reductive alkene and alkyne functionlization reactions including hydroboration, hydrosilylation, hydrogenation, hydrovinylation and [2π+2π] cyclization reactions.

    • Jamie H. Docherty
    • , Jingying Peng
    • , Andrew P. Dominey
    •  & Stephen P. Thomas

In Your Element

  • In Your Element |

    Andrea Taroni shares his experience with vanadium — a colourful element with a rich chemistry (and physics!) that is emblematic of all transition metals.

    • Andrea Taroni