Chemical biology

  • Article
    | Open Access

    The transition of prebiotic chemistry to present-day chemistry lasted a very long period of time, but the current laboratory investigations of this process are mostly limited to a couple of days. Here, the authors develop a fully automated robotic prebiotic chemist designed for long-term chemical experiments exploring unconstrained multicomponent reactions, which can run autonomously and uses simple chemical inputs.

    • Silke Asche
    • , Geoffrey J. T. Cooper
    •  & Leroy Cronin
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Fluorogenic RNA aptamers such as Chili display strong fluorescence enhancement upon aptamer–ligand complex formation. Here, the authors provide insights into the mechanism of fluorescence activation of Chili by solving the crystal structures of Chili with its bound positively charged ligands DMHBO+ and DMHBI+, and they reveal that Chili uses an excited state proton transfer mechanism based on time-resolved optical spectroscopy measurements.

    • Mateusz Mieczkowski
    • , Christian Steinmetzger
    •  & Claudia Höbartner
  • Article
    | Open Access

    While the role of specific posttranslational modifications (PTMs) is increasingly well understood for core histones, this is not the case for linker histone H1. Here the authors show that site-specific ubiquitylation of H1 results in distinct interactomes, regulates phase separation, and modulates assembly of chromatosomes.

    • Eva Höllmüller
    • , Simon Geigges
    •  & Florian Stengel
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Substrate channeling can improve biosynthetic efficiency and has been implicated in the reactions of fusicoccadiene synthase. Here, the authors analyze this bifunctional enzyme complex by cryoEM, cross-linking MS and integrative modeling, providing structural insights into how substrate channeling is achieved.

    • Jacque L. Faylo
    • , Trevor van Eeuwen
    •  & David W. Christianson
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Silver (Ag) has been used as an antimicrobial agent since a long time, but its molecular mechanism of action was not elucidated due to technical challenges. Here, the authors develop a mass spectrometric approach to identify the Ag-proteome in Staphylococcus aureus, and capture a molecular snapshot of the dynamic bactericidal mode of action of Ag through targeting multiple biological pathways.

    • Haibo Wang
    • , Minji Wang
    •  & Hongzhe Sun
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Self-assembling peptides (SAPs) can be used to build biomaterials, but genetically encoded SAPs have rarely been used as building blocks in cells. Here, the authors design a SAP that can be genetically fused to target proteins to induce their intracellular clustering and modulate their signaling functions.

    • Takayuki Miki
    • , Taichi Nakai
    •  & Hisakazu Mihara
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Advanced glycation end-products (AGEs), such as methylglyoxal-derived hydroimidazolone isomer (MGH-1), are associated with disease and age-related disorders, and occur spontaneously, so it is unclear why specific protein sites become modified with specific AGEs. Here, the authors use a combinatorial peptide library to determine the chemical features that favour MGH-1 formation for short peptides and demonstrate a key role of tyrosine in this process.

    • Joseph M. McEwen
    • , Sasha Fraser
    •  & Rebecca A. Scheck
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The IDG-DREAM Challenge carried out crowdsourced benchmarking of predictive algorithms for kinase inhibitor activities on unpublished data. This study provides a resource to compare emerging algorithms and prioritize new kinase activities to accelerate drug discovery and repurposing efforts.

    • Anna Cichońska
    • , Balaguru Ravikumar
    •  & Tero Aittokallio
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Recently, a class of non-catechol Dopamine D1 receptor (D1R) selective agonists with novel scaffold and improved pharmacological properties were reported. Here, authors report the crystal structure of D1R in complex with stimulatory G protein (Gs) and a non-catechol agonist Compound 1 which explains the selectivity of this scaffold for D1R over other aminergic receptors and the mechanism of activating D1R.

    • Bingfa Sun
    • , Dan Feng
    •  & Brian K. Kobilka
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Vibrational energy transfer (VET) is essential for protein function as it is responsible for efficient energy dissipation in reaction sites and is linked to pathways of allosteric communication. Here authors equipped a tryptophan zipper with a VET injector and a VET sensor for femtosecond pump probe experiments to map the VET.

    • Erhan Deniz
    • , Luis Valiño-Borau
    •  & Jens Bredenbeck
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Catalytic enantioselective halocyclization of alkenes is an important bond forming tool and a key step in natural product biosynthesis, but so far no examples of the enzymatic counterpart of this reaction on simple achiral olefins have been reported. Here, the authors describe examples of engineered flavin-dependent halogenases that catalyze halolactonization of olefins with high enantioselectivity and near-native catalytic activity.

    • Dibyendu Mondal
    • , Brian F. Fisher
    •  & Jared C. Lewis
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Current genome mining methods predict many putative non-ribosomal peptides (NRPs) from their corresponding biosynthetic gene clusters, but it remains unclear which of those exist in nature and how to identify their post-assembly modifications. Here, the authors develop NRPminer, a modification-tolerant tool for the discovery of NRPs from large genomic and mass spectrometry datasets, and use it to find 180 NRPs from different environments.

    • Bahar Behsaz
    • , Edna Bode
    •  & Hosein Mohimani
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The circadian clock is an internal mechanism that controls various physiological processes, such as the sleep-wake cycle, but its precise regulation is challenging. Here, the authors develop a visible light-responsive inhibitor of casein kinase I which controls the period and phase of cellular and tissue circadian rhythms in a reversible manner.

    • Dušan Kolarski
    • , Carla Miró-Vinyals
    •  & Ben L. Feringa
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Generating new sensible molecular structures is a key problem in computer aided drug discovery. Here the authors propose a graph-based molecular generative model that outperforms previously proposed graph-based generative models of molecules and performs comparably to several SMILES-based models.

    • Omar Mahmood
    • , Elman Mansimov
    •  & Kyunghyun Cho
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Caerulomycins and collismycins are two types of 2,2’-bipyridine natural products that are biosynthesized via a hybrid NRPS-PKS pathway, but the details of their biosynthesis were unknown. Here, the authors elucidate their biosynthetic pathways, validate the generality of 2,2’-bipyridine formation, and clarify the process for 2,2’-bipyridine furcation.

    • Bo Pang
    • , Rijing Liao
    •  & Wen Liu
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The search for life in the universe is difficult due to issues with defining signatures of living systems. Here, the authors present an approach based on the molecular assembly number and tandem mass spectrometry that allows identification of molecules produced by biological systems, and use it to identify biosignatures from a range of samples, including ones from outer space.

    • Stuart M. Marshall
    • , Cole Mathis
    •  & Leroy Cronin
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The histone methyltransferase ASH1L plays a role in various diseases, including cancer, and has been validated as a therapeutic target; however, no inhibitors of ASH1L have been reported. Here the authors present small molecule inhibitors of ASH1L and demonstrate their on-target activity in leukemia cells and a mouse model of leukemia.

    • David S. Rogawski
    • , Jing Deng
    •  & Jolanta Grembecka
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The poor bench stability of phosphoramidites is a drawback for fast automised chemical oligonucleotide synthesis. Here, the authors report a method for on-demand flow synthesis of phosphoramidites within short reaction times, in near-quantitative yields and sufficient purity for integration with DNA synthesizers.

    • Alexander F. Sandahl
    • , Thuy J. D. Nguyen
    •  & Kurt V. Gothelf
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The herbivorous horseradish flea beetle sequesters plant toxins to defend against predators. Here the authors identify glucosinolate transporters expressed in the beetle Malpighian tubules and provide evidence that these reabsorb glucosinolates from the tubule lumen to prevent their loss by excretion.

    • Zhi-Ling Yang
    • , Hussam Hassan Nour-Eldin
    •  & Franziska Beran
  • Article
    | Open Access

    It is challenging to develop DNA probes that allow staining of both organelle and nuclear DNA, are compatible with super resolution imaging and avoid UV-light photo-excitation. The authors overcome these issues with N-aryl pyrido cyanine derivatives showing high DNA specificity and membrane permeability.

    • Kakishi Uno
    • , Nagisa Sugimoto
    •  & Yoshikatsu Sato
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Activation of cullin-RING ligases can be inhibited by targeting DCN1, but selective DCN1 inhibitors with in vivo activity are lacking. Here, the authors develop covalent DCN1 inhibitors that selectively and potently inhibit cullin-3 activation and downstream functions in cells and in mice.

    • Haibin Zhou
    • , Jianfeng Lu
    •  & Shaomeng Wang
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Non-ribosomal peptide synthetases (NRPSs) are multi-modular enzymes assembling complex natural products. Here, the structures of a Thermobifida fusca NRPS condensation domain bound to the substrate-bearing peptidyl carrier protein (PCP) domain provide insight into the mechanisms of substrate selectivity and engagement within the catalytic pocket.

    • Thierry Izoré
    • , Y. T. Candace Ho
    •  & Max J. Cryle
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The ER chaperone BiP is critical for the unfolded protein response and tightly regulated through reversible AMPylation by FICD, but the structural basis is unknown. Here the authors use thiol-reactive nucleotide derivatives to stabilize the transient FICD:BiP complex and determine its crystal structure.

    • Joel Fauser
    • , Burak Gulen
    •  & Aymelt Itzen
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Metabolites can distinguish pathogenic from healthy cells, but they are hard to couple to current photosensitizers without altering their biological activity. Here the authors design a new family of photosensitizers that retain metabolite function to target pathogenic cells and ablate them by photodynamic therapy.

    • Sam Benson
    • , Fabio de Moliner
    •  & Marc Vendrell
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Current aptamer discovery approaches are unable to probe the complete space of possible sequences. Here, the authors use machine learning to facilitate the development of DNA aptamers with improved binding affinities, and truncate them without significantly compromising binding affinity.

    • Ali Bashir
    • , Qin Yang
    •  & B. Scott Ferguson
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The detailed mechanisms of action of bactericidal antibiotics remain unclear. Here, Wong et al. show that these antibiotics induce cytoplasmic condensation through membrane damage and outflow of cytoplasmic contents, as well as accumulation of reactive metabolic by-products and lipid peroxidation, as part of their lethality.

    • Felix Wong
    • , Jonathan M. Stokes
    •  & James J. Collins
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Methods for selective modification of the N-terminus of proteins are of high interest, but mostly require specific amino acid residues. Here, the authors report a selective and fast method for N-terminal modification of proteins based on quinone-mediated oxidation of the alpha-amine to aldehyde or ketone, and apply it to diverse proteins.

    • Siyao Wang
    • , Qingqing Zhou
    •  & Ping Wang
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Arginine addiction induced by argininosuccinate synthase (ASSN1) deficiency has been exploited to treat ASS1-deficient cancers. Here, the authors show an alternative therapeutic approach where ASS1 activity is increased by the pesticide spinosyn A and is shown to inhibit breast cancer cell proliferation.

    • Zizheng Zou
    • , Xiyuan Hu
    •  & Zhiyong Luo
  • Article
    | Open Access

    P450 oxidoreductase (POR) selectively activates numerous cytochromes P450 (CYP), crucial for metabolism of drugs, steroids and xenobiotics and natural product biosynthesis. Here, the authors identify ligands that bind POR and bias its specificity towards CYP redox partners, activating distinct metabolic cascades in cells.

    • Simon Bo Jensen
    • , Sara Thodberg
    •  & Nikos S. Hatzakis
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Inhibition of the lipid peroxidase GPX4 promotes ferroptotic cell death. Here, the authors identify a complementary approach using conjugated linolenic fatty acids that trigger lipid peroxidation and ferroptosis via ACSL1, DGAT1/2, and neutral lipids.

    • Alexander Beatty
    • , Tanu Singh
    •  & Jeffrey R. Peterson
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Engineering efforts have focused on acyltransferase (AT) domains of modular polyketide synthases (PKSs) to site-selectively modify the resulting polyketides, but critical AT residues involved in substrate selection have not been fully elucidated. Here, the authors use molecular dynamics to pinpoint mutations that impact AT domain selectivity and exchange structural motifs to obtain chimeric PKS modules with expanded substrate specificity.

    • Edward Kalkreuter
    • , Kyle S. Bingham
    •  & Gavin J. Williams
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Streptoseomycin is a potent antibiotic that contains a pentacyclic 5/14/10/6/6 ring system. Here, the authors report the enzymatic and non-enzymatic steps of the downstream modification of streptoseomycin biosynthesis and show a [6 + 4]-cycloaddition adduct as an unexpected biosynthetic intermediate.

    • Kai Biao Wang
    • , Wen Wang
    •  & Hui Ming Ge
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Human manganese superoxide dismutase (MnSOD) is an oxidoreductase that uses concerted proton and electron transfers to reduce the levels of superoxide radicals in mitochondria, but mechanistic insights into this process are limited. Here, the authors report neutron crystal structures of Mn3+SOD and Mn2+SOD, revealing changes in the protonation states of key residues in the enzyme active site during the redox cycle.

    • Jahaun Azadmanesh
    • , William E. Lutz
    •  & Gloria E. O. Borgstahl
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Natural products inspire the development of pseudo-natural products through combinations of fragments of compound classes that are chemically and biologically distinct. Here, the authors report a library of 244 pseudo-natural products, evaluate them in the cell painting essays and identify the phenotypic role of individual fragments.

    • Michael Grigalunas
    • , Annina Burhop
    •  & Herbert Waldmann
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Buried charged networks in proteins are often important for their biological functionality and are believed to destabilise the protein fold. Here, the authors combine computational design, MD simulations, biophysical experiments, NMR and X-ray crystallography to design and characterise artificial 4α-helical proteins with buried charged elements. They analyse their conformational landscapes and observe that the ion-pairs are stabilised by amphiphilic residues that electrostatically shield the charged motif, which increases structural stability.

    • Mona Baumgart
    • , Michael Röpke
    •  & Ville R. I. Kaila
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Aminoglycoside antibiotics target the ribosome and induce misreading, yet which translation errors induce bacterial cell death is unclear. Here authors use quantitative mass spectrometry and show that bactericidal aminoglycosides induce clusters of errors in full-length proteins in vivo with as many as four amino acid substitutions in a row.

    • Ingo Wohlgemuth
    • , Raffaella Garofalo
    •  & Marina V. Rodnina
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Here, the authors present DisCo (Disassembly of Condensates), a method that allows the fast, inducible, and specific disruption of tagged condensates in mammalian cells. DisCo uses chemical dimerizers to induce the recruitment of a ligand into condensates leading to condensate disassembly.

    • Carmen N. Hernández-Candia
    • , Sarah Pearce
    •  & Chandra L. Tucker
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The demethylase FTO was shown to remove on N6-methyladenosine (m6A) and N6, 2’-O-dimethyladenosine (m6Am) modifications on RNAs. Here the authors show that FTO impedes cancer stem cell-like abilities in colorectal cancer cells through its m6Am demethylase activity, not through internal m6A demethylase activity.

    • Sébastien Relier
    • , Julie Ripoll
    •  & Alexandre David
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The methods for investigation of DNA-binding proteins require site-selective chemical modifications to be introduced into oligonucleotides. Here, the authors report a chemo- and regioselective method for the modification of unpaired guanosines in single- and double-stranded oligonucleotides, based on Rh(I)-carbene catalysis.

    • Yang-Ha Lee
    • , Eunsoo Yu
    •  & Cheol-Min Park
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Bio-mimetic motion has been hard to achieve due to a lack of biocompatible conditions. Here, the authors report the creation of a liposome-stabilised aqueous PEG/dextran Pickering-like emulsion system with motion induced by the Marangoni effect and characterised by negative chemotaxis.

    • Shaobin Zhang
    • , Claudia Contini
    •  & Oscar Ces
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Reveromycin A (RM-A) selectively inhibits eukaryotic cytoplasmic isoleucyltRNA synthetase (IleRS). Herein, the authors show that RM-A molecule occupies the tRNAIle binding site of Saccharomyces cerevisiae IleRS, and that RM-A cooperates with isoleucine or isoleucyl-adenylate for IleRS binding.

    • Bingyi Chen
    • , Siting Luo
    •  & Huihao Zhou
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Iron is an essential plant nutrient that is poorly bioavailable in alkaline soils, resulting in reduced agricultural productivity. Here, the authors report the synthesis of stable and cheap iron-chelator, proline-2’-deoxymugineic acid (PDMA), and demonstrate its utility as potential fertilizer.

    • Motofumi Suzuki
    • , Atsumi Urabe
    •  & Kosuke Namba
  • Article
    | Open Access

    RaPID (Random non-standard Peptides Integrated Discovery) enables discovery of small macrocyclic peptides binding desired targets. Here, the authors propose lasso-grafting: the RaPID-derived peptides are implanted onto diverse proteins and maintain both the binding properties of the cyclic peptide and the host protein function.

    • Emiko Mihara
    • , Satoshi Watanabe
    •  & Junichi Takagi