Biophysical chemistry

Biophysical chemistry is the study of the physical properties of biological macromolecules at either a chemical sequence level or a more global structural level. Biophysical chemistry is also used to describe techniques suited to understanding the physical properties of biological molecules at a chemical level, including nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy and X-ray crystallography.

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  • News and Views |

    The longstanding ‘polyelectrolyte theory of the gene’ proposes that a multiply charged backbone is the universal signature of all genetic polymer systems that support life. Now, the first tenable challenge to this theory has been mounted, through the successful engineering of enzymes which can synthesize and reverse-transcribe from an artificial, uncharged nucleic acid analogue.

    • Asha Brown
    •  & Tom Brown
    Nature Chemistry 11, 501-503
  • News and Views |

    Maleimide–thiol adducts are popular in both bioconjugation and materials chemistry, however, they are unstable under physiological conditions. Now, a mechanochemical approach uses pulling forces to stabilize maleimide–thiol adducts and improve the stability of polymer–protein conjugates.

    • Cody J. Higginson
    •  & Phillip B. Messersmith
    Nature Chemistry 11, 295-296
  • News and Views |

    The combination of spinal epidural stimulation and physical therapy is restoring walking function to people with spinal cord injury. With intensive rehabilitation, some participants are able to walk in their communities during stimulation and even regain control over previously paralyzed movement in the absence of stimulation.

    • Chet Moritz
    Nature Neuroscience 21, 1647-1648
  • News and Views |

    Potassium channels rapidly move K+ ions across cell membranes while blocking Na+, but how these two effects are achieved simultaneously has remained unclear. Now, extensive molecular simulations show a single mechanism that features fully dehydrated ions can explain both rapid transport and impeccable selectivity.

    • Ben Corry
    Nature Chemistry 10, 799-800