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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Latest Research and Reviews

News and Comment

  • News and Views |

    In biological systems, order typically emerges from out-of-equilibrium molecular processes that control both static patterns and dynamic changes. Now, the self-regulating assembly and disassembly of a synthetic system has been achieved on the micrometre scale, by coupling the growth of a DNA nanotube to a biochemical oscillator.

    • Tim Liedl
    Nature Chemistry 11, 497-499
  • 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 |

    Over-expression of a transcriptional factor, Alx3, has been shown to revitalize the regenerative capacity of adult progenitor cells to promote enhanced stromal vascularization and formation of parenchymal dental pulp tissue in vivo.

    • Sarah E. Millar
    Nature Materials 18, 530-531
  • Research Highlights |

    Thermal denaturation of proteins affords species that differ in terms of cofactors and conformations. Ion mobility spectrometry and mass spectrometry can be used to unravel these mixtures and learn the factors stabilizing certain protein forms.

    • David Schilter
  • News and Views |

    IRE1α is an endoplasmic reticulum (ER) transmembrane protein known for a crucial role in regulating the unfolding protein response. A study now shows that IRE1α interacts with the main ER Ca2+ channel InsP3Rs and facilitates the transfer of Ca2+ from the ER into mitochondria, thus driving cellular metabolism.

    • Roland Malli
    •  & Wolfgang F. Graier