Chemical biology

Chemical biology is the study of the chemicals and chemical reactions involved in biological processes, incorporating the disciplines of bioorganic chemistry, biochemistry, cell biology and pharmacology. Chemicals – including natural small molecules, such as lipids, carbohydrates and metals, or non-natural probe or drug molecules – are used to gain insight into biological problems at a mechanistic level.

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  • Comments and Opinion |

    Dipeptidylpeptidase (DPP)-4 is a key regulator of the incretin system. For several years DPP-4 inhibitors in addition to GLP-1 analogues are of major importance in the clinical management of obesity and type 2 diabetes. DPP-4 is also known as CD26 and represents a membrane bound protease on the surface of several eukaryotic cell types. Of interest, DPP-4, like ACE2, has been shown to serve as a binding partner for corona-like viruses to enter host immune cells. Since metabolic diseases are major risk factors for the present COVID-19 pandemic, we examined circulating soluble DPP-4 serum concentrations in patients suffering from severe COVID-19 infection and in healthy human subjects in a case control design. In this analysis sDPP-4 levels were significantly lower in COVID-19 patients compared to controls (242.70 ± 202.12 ng/mL versus 497.70 ± 188.13 ng/mL, p = 0.02). We also examined sDPP-4 serum concentrations in patients suffering from sepsis not due to corona-like viruses. In these subjects, sDPP-4 levels were not different compared to healthy case controls (p = 0.14), which might suggest the decrease of sDPP-4 to be specific for corona-like virus infections. Currently, most data point towards membrane bound ACE2 in contrast to DPP-4 as the major binding partner for COVID-19 internalization into host immune cells. However, the finding that the circulating soluble form of DPP-4 is reduced in hospitalized patients might suggest a regulatory role for both, ACE and DPP-4, in COVID-19 infections, especially since obesity and type 2 diabetes are major risk factor for a severe course of the disease

    • Kristina Schlicht
    • , Nathalie Rohmann
    • , Corinna Geisler
    • , Tim Hollstein
    • , Carina Knappe
    • , Katharina Hartmann
    • , Jeanette Schwarz
    • , Florian Tran
    • , Domagoj Schunk
    • , Ralf Junker
    • , Thomas Bahmer
    • , Philip Rosenstiel
    • , Dominik Schulte
    • , Kathrin Türk
    • , Andre Franke
    • , Stefan Schreiber
    •  & Matthias Laudes
  • News and Views |

    The electrogenic bacterium Geobacter synthesizes conductive extracellular nanowires to facilitate electron transfer that powers respiration. A highly conductive form of these nanowires is now revealed to be composed of oligomers of an 8-heme cytochrome, OmcZ.

    • Thomas A. Clarke
    •  & Marcus J. Edwards
    Nature Chemical Biology 16, 1041-1042
  • News and Views |

    Coherent Raman imaging enables mapping of chemical features at subcellular resolution, setting the stage for tracking lipids and other metabolites in intact living systems.

    • Bennett W. Fox
    •  & Frank C. Schroeder
    Nature Chemical Biology 16, 1039-1040