Chemical biology

  • Article
    | Open Access

    Faster, higher throughput antibody engineering methods are needed. Here the authors present CeVICA, a cell-free nanobody engineering platform using ribosome display and computational clustering analysis for in vitro selection; they use this to develop nanobodies against the RBD of SARS-CoV-2 spike protein.

    • Xun Chen
    • , Matteo Gentili
    •  & Aviv Regev
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Methyl salicylate ester is a plant metabolite involved in plant-insect and plant-plant interactions. Here, Yu et al. show that a nematode-trapping fungus has potential to produce a related compound, 6-methyl salicylate, which attracts its prey (nematodes) and modulates spore germination and trap formation in the fungus.

    • Xi Yu
    • , Xiaodi Hu
    •  & Reinhard Fischer
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Here, Broszeit et al. show that circulating A/H3N2 viruses have evolved binding specificity to α2,6-sialosides on extended LacNAc moieties and therefore cannot agglutinate erythrocytes. Applying glycan remodeling allows to install functional receptors on erythrocytes and promotes identification of newly circulating variants to facilitate vaccine design.

    • Frederik Broszeit
    • , Rosanne J. van Beek
    •  & Geert-Jan Boons
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Humans are exposed to many xenobiotic chemicals, but identification of low abundance xenobiotic exposures is limited by a lack of authentic standards for xenobiotic metabolites. Here the authors develop methods for enzymatic generation of diverse xenobiotic metabolites for use with high-resolution mass spectrometry for biology-based chemical identification.

    • Ken H. Liu
    • , Choon M. Lee
    •  & Dean P. Jones
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Borosins are ribosomally encoded and posttranslationally modified peptide (RiPP) natural products featuring amide-backbone α-N-methylation. Here, the authors report the discovery and characterization of type IV borosin ‘split’ pathways encoding distinct, separate α-N-methyltransferases and precursor peptide substrates.

    • Fredarla S. Miller
    • , Kathryn K. Crone
    •  & Michael F. Freeman
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Elucidating specific effects of protein kinase Akt isoforms remains challenging. Here, the authors establish an Akt isoform-dependent cellular model system and use it, together with X-ray crystallography and structure-based ligand design, to develop isoform-selective covalent-allosteric Akt inhibitors

    • Lena Quambusch
    • , Laura Depta
    •  & Daniel Rauh
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Here, the authors engineer microbial production of muscle titin fibers with highly desirable mechanical properties and provide structural analyses that explain the molecular mechanisms underlying high performance of this polymer with potential uses in biomedicine and textile industries, among others.

    • Christopher H. Bowen
    • , Cameron J. Sargent
    •  & Fuzhong Zhang
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Integration and communication of distinct chemical reaction networks is a biological strategy for controlling dynamics of hierarchical structures. Here, the authors report ATP-fuelled autonomous DNA nanotube assembly regulated by DNA strand displacement reactions, which are induced and controlled by an upstream enzyme reaction network of concurrent ATP-mediated ligation and restriction of DNA components.

    • Jie Deng
    •  & Andreas Walther
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Understanding the structure and dynamics of enzymes is important for a number of applications. Here, the authors report on the crystal structure of vanillic acid decarboxylase, and show how the dynamics of the UbiD superfamily enzymes relate to the covalent catalysis of aromatic (de)carboxylation.

    • Stephen A. Marshall
    • , Karl A. P. Payne
    •  & David Leys
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Cholesterol metabolism is involved in the progression of aggressive prostate cancer (PCa). Here the authors show that miR-205 downregulation promotes cholesterol synthesis and androgen receptor signalling in PCa through enhancing the expression of the rate-limiting enzyme of cholesterol synthesis, squalene epoxidase.

    • C. Kalogirou
    • , J. Linxweiler
    •  & A. Schulze
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Glycomics can uncover important molecular changes but measured glycans are highly interconnected and incompatible with common statistical methods, introducing pitfalls during analysis. Here, the authors develop an approach to identify glycan dependencies across samples to facilitate comparative glycomics.

    • Bokan Bao
    • , Benjamin P. Kellman
    •  & Nathan E. Lewis
  • Article
    | Open Access

    5-Hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) can be transformed to a range of industrially useful derivatives, such as 2,5-diformylfuran (DFF), but the reactions needed for efficient industrial production are hindered by several issues. Here, the authors perform reaction and enzyme engineering resulting in a galactose oxidase variant with high activity towards HMF, improved oxygen binding and high productivity.

    • William R. Birmingham
    • , Asbjørn Toftgaard Pedersen
    •  & Nicholas J. Turner
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The only known animal polyketide-nonribosomal peptides, the nemamides, are biosynthesized by two megasynthetases in the canal-associated neurons (CANs) of C. elegans. Here, the authors map the biosynthetic roles of individual megasynthetase domains and identify additional enzymes in the CANs required for nemamide biosynthesis.

    • Likui Feng
    • , Matthew T. Gordon
    •  & Rebecca A. Butcher
  • Article
    | Open Access

    C-Glycosyl peptides/proteins are metabolically stable mimics of the native glycopeptides/proteins of great therapeutic potential, but their chemical synthesis is challenging. Here, the authors report a protocol for the synthesis of vinyl C-glycosyl amino acids and peptides, via a Ni-catalyzed reductive hydroglycosylation reaction of alkyne derivatives of amino acids and peptides with glycosyl bromides.

    • Yan-Hua Liu
    • , Yu-Nong Xia
    •  & Biao Yu
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Analogues of α-ketoglutarate are used in many cellular studies but assumptions are made about cellular uptake. Here, the authors show that esterified analogues rapidly hydrolyse in aqueous medium resulting in an analogue which can be quickly taken up by many cell lines, contrary to prevailing assumptions.

    • Seth J. Parker
    • , Joel Encarnación-Rosado
    •  & Alec C. Kimmelman
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Various strategies to assemble protein building blocks into one-, two- and three-dimensional hierarchical nanostructures were described, but controlling the transformation between those different assemblies is largely uninvestigated. Here, the authors describe a protein interface redesign strategy and use it for the self-assembly transformation of dimeric building blocks from hollow protein nanocage to filament, nanorod and nanoribbon.

    • Xiaorong Zhang
    • , Yu Liu
    •  & Guanghua Zhao
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Nicotinic acid adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NAADP) potent Ca2+ mobilizing second messenger which uniquely triggers Ca2+ release from acidic endolysosomal organelles. Here the authors identify Lsm12 as an NAADP receptor essential for NAADP-evoked Ca2+ release from lysosomes via NAADP binding on its Lsm domain.

    • Jiyuan Zhang
    • , Xin Guan
    •  & Jiusheng Yan
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Here, the authors show structural, biochemical, and functional insights into the discovery of epichaperome‐ directed chemical probes for use in central nervous system diseases. Probes emerging from this work have translated to human clinical studies in Alzheimer’s disease and cancer.

    • Alexander Bolaender
    • , Danuta Zatorska
    •  & Gabriela Chiosis
  • Article
    | Open Access

    While Ras is a promising target for cancer therapy, development of inhibitors targeting Ras signaling has proven challenging. Here, the authors report the discovery of Rasarfin, a small molecule from a phenotypic screen on G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) endocytosis that acts as a dual Ras and ARF6 inhibitor.

    • Jenna Giubilaro
    • , Doris A. Schuetz
    •  & Stéphane A. Laporte
  • Article
    | Open Access

    This study describes a class of small molecule compounds that promote ABCA1-dependent cholesterol efflux via a non-transcriptional mechanism, the identification of the molecular target by a chemical biology approach, and the potential of these agents for the treatment of chronic kidney diseases and potentially other diseases where lipid accumulation drives disease progression.

    • Matthew B. Wright
    • , Javier Varona Santos
    •  & Alessia Fornoni
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Ligand-oligonucleotide interactions can integrate both small molecules and proteins into nucleic acid-based circuits. Here the authors design ligand-aptamer complexes to control strand-displacement reactions for versatile ligand transduction.

    • Qiu-Long Zhang
    • , Liang-Liang Wang
    •  & Liang Xu
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Aβ oligomers (AβO) are thought to represent the main toxic species in Alzheimer’s disease but very high Aβ concentrations are required to study them in vitro and it remains unknown what role these off-pathway oligomers play in vivo. Here, the authors use a dimeric variant of Aβ termed dimAβ, where two Aβ40 units are linked, which facilitates to study AβO formation kinetics and they observe that Aβ off-pathway oligomer formation is strongly accelerated at endo-lysosomal pH, while amyloid fibril formation is delayed. Furthermore, the authors demonstrate that dimAβ is a disease-relevant model construct for pathogenic AβO formation by showing that dimAβ AβOs target dendritic spines and induce AD-like somatodendritic Tau missorting.

    • Marie P. Schützmann
    • , Filip Hasecke
    •  & Wolfgang Hoyer
  • Article
    | Open Access

    PARG and ARH3 are the main hydrolases to reverse serine poly(ADP-ribosylation) yet their activities in the process differ. Here, the authors synthesise linear and branched poly(ADP-ribose) molecules, perform structure-function analysis and elucidate the mechanistic differences between PARG and ARH3.

    • Johannes Gregor Matthias Rack
    • , Qiang Liu
    •  & Ivan Ahel
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The authors develop a method to build Manhattan Raman Scattering (MARS) probes based on different core atoms, conjugation ring numbers, and stable isotope substitutions. A quantitative model predicts vibrational frequencies of MARS dyes from structures, which are used in supermultiplexed vibrational imaging.

    • Yupeng Miao
    • , Naixin Qian
    •  & Wei Min
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Aurantinins are polyketides with unusual connectivities and broad antibacterial activity. Here the authors show the biosynthesis of aurantinins, which proceeds via an on-line methyl esterification at the terminus that enables the iterative chain elongations prior to condensation and cyclization.

    • Pengwei Li
    • , Meng Chen
    •  & Yihua Chen
  • Article
    | Open Access

    An efficient chassis for heterologous expression of biosynthetic gene clusters (BGCs) from Gram-negative bacteria is still unavailable. Here, the authors report rational construction of genome-reduced Burkholderials chassis to facilitate production of a class of new compounds by expressing BGC from Chitinimonas koreensis.

    • Jiaqi Liu
    • , Haibo Zhou
    •  & Xiaoying Bian
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Self-assembling peptides have a range of potential applications but developing self-assembling sequences can be challenging. Here, the authors report on a one-bead one-compound combinatorial library where fluorescence is used to detect the potential for self-assembly and identified candidates are evaluated.

    • Pei-Pei Yang
    • , Yi-Jing Li
    •  & Kit S. Lam
  • Article
    | Open Access

    PMOs (phosphorodiamidate morpholino oligomers) have huge potential for antisense therapy but complex and slow synthesis limits application. Here, the authors report the development of automated flow synthesis methods which reduce nucleobase coupling times from hours to minutes removing human errors and allow for high-throughput production.

    • Chengxi Li
    • , Alex J. Callahan
    •  & Bradley L. Pentelute
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Toll-like receptor 8 (TLR8) plays essential roles in the innate immune response to viral single-stranded RNA (ssRNA), so small molecule modulators of TLR8 are of interest, however adverse effects limit their use. Here, the authors report a tetrasubstituted imidazole CU-CPD107 with dichotomous behaviour, which inhibits R848-induced TLR8 signaling, but shows synergistic activity in the presence of ssRNA, making it a potential antiviral agent.

    • Yi Yang
    • , Adam Csakai
    •  & Hang Yin
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Prenylated indole alkaloids contain spirooxindole rings with a 3R or 3S carbon stereocenter, which determines their bioactivities, but the biocatalytic mechanism controlling the 3R- or 3S-spirooxindole formation was unclear. Here, the authors report the biochemical and structural characterization of the oxygenase/semipinacolase CtdE that catalyses the 3S-spirooxindole construction in the biosynthesis of 21R-citrinadin A.

    • Zhiwen Liu
    • , Fanglong Zhao
    •  & Xue Gao
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The intracellular compartment is a crowded environment. Here, the authors use molecular dynamics (MD) simulations to assess inhibitor binding to c-Src kinase and show how ligand binding pathways differ in crowded and dilute protein solutions, highlighting the role of c-Src Tyr82 sidechain.

    • Kento Kasahara
    • , Suyong Re
    •  & Yuji Sugita
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Synchronizing gene expression across eukaryotic communities presents complex challenges. Here the authors construct a compact synthetic system inspired by bacteria response to antibiotics that robustly converts chemical rhythms into synchronized gene expression across populations.

    • Sara Pérez-García
    • , Mario García-Navarrete
    •  & Krzysztof Wabnik
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Filamentous cable bacteria conduct electrical currents over centimeter distances through fibers embedded in their cell envelope. Here, Boschker et al. show that the fibers consist of a conductive core containing nickel proteins that is surrounded by an insulating protein shell.

    • Henricus T. S. Boschker
    • , Perran L. M. Cook
    •  & Filip J. R. Meysman
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Amyloid aggregation of mutant p53 contributes to its loss of tumor suppressor function and oncogenic gain-of-function. Here, the authors use a protein mimetic to abrogate mutant p53 aggregation and rescue p53 function, which inhibits cancer cell proliferation in vitro and halts tumor growth in vivo.

    • L. Palanikumar
    • , Laura Karpauskaite
    •  & Mazin Magzoub
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The chemical processes for the selective incorporation of deuterium into small molecules, of interest to organic and medicinal chemistry, are well established, while the enzymatic methods remain underdeveloped. Here, the authors use an enzymatic approach employing Chlorella variabilis NC64A photodecarboxylase that catalyses decarboxylative deuteration of various carboxylic acids with D2O, and identify enzyme variants that can employ substrates with different chain length acids.

    • Jian Xu
    • , Jiajie Fan
    •  & Qi Wu
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The therapeutic application of small interfering RNA (siRNA) is challenging due to its non-specific targeting and delivery issues. Here, the authors report an endogenous micro-RNA guided and hybridisation chain reaction-promoted siRNA delivery system encapsulated in tumour-derived extracellular vesicles, with cancer-specific activation, and achieve silencing of hypoxia-related genes.

    • Xue Gong
    • , Haizhou Wang
    •  & Fuan Wang
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Small molecules bioactivity descriptors are enriched representations of compounds, reaching beyond chemical structures and capturing their known biological properties. Here the authors present a collection of deep neural networks able to infer bioactivity signatures for any compound of interest, even when little or no experimental information is available for them.

    • Martino Bertoni
    • , Miquel Duran-Frigola
    •  & Patrick Aloy
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The membrane is an integral component of the G protein-coupled receptor signaling machinery. Here authors demonstrate that lipids regulate the signaling efficacy and selectivity of the ghrelin receptor GHSR through specific interactions and bulk effects and observe PIP2 and GM3 induced shifts of the conformational equilibrium of GHSR away from its inactive state.

    • Marjorie Damian
    • , Maxime Louet
    •  & Jean-Louis Banères
  • Review Article
    | Open Access

    Natural products are an important source of bioactive compounds and have versatile applications in different fields, but their discovery is challenging. Here, the authors review the recent developments in genome mining for discovery of natural products, focusing on compounds from unconventional microorganisms and microbiomes.

    • Kirstin Scherlach
    •  & Christian Hertweck
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Current near-IR optogenetic systems to regulate transcription consist of a number of large protein components. Here the authors report a smaller single-component near-IR system, iLight, developed from a bacterial phytochrome that they use to control gene transcription in bacterial and mammalian cells.

    • Andrii A. Kaberniuk
    • , Mikhail Baloban
    •  & Vladislav V. Verkhusha