Monday, March 27, 2017

Nature Chemistry Contents April 2017 Volume 9 Number 4 pp 297 - 402

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Nature Chemistry

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April 2017 Volume 9, Issue 4

News and Views
In Your Element

Focus on membrane materials for separations

Membrane materials offer many practical advantages for purification and separation applications. Nature Materials presents a Focus which highlights the most promising new membrane materials that offer competitive performance capabilities, and discusses how to transfer such materials and processes to industry.

Read the Focus

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Life, but not as we know it   p297
There are many unanswered questions regarding how the biomolecules and biomechanical processes that define life came to be. A collection of Articles in this issue show how intermediates in RNA synthesis might have formed and how the initiation and evolution of RNA replication might have occurred.

News and Views


Organometallic chemistry: A shortcut to molecular complexity   pp298 - 299
Masahiro Murakami and Naoki Ishida
A unique transformation for the site-selective cleavage of one C-C single bond and two C-H bonds in sequence has now been developed. This enables a simple carbon skeleton to be reorganized into a significantly more complex form with remarkable efficiency.

See also: Article by Ye et al.

Organomimetic clusters: Precision in 3D   pp299 - 301
Marek B. Majewski, Ashlee J. Howarth and Omar K. Farha
Biomimetic molecules that can be easily tailored offer numerous opportunities. Now, boron-based clusters have been shown to be excellent biomimetics. The ease with which the cluster surfaces can be modified stands to change how chemists might go about preparing materials for imaging, drug delivery and other applications.

See also: Article by Qian et al.

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A prebiotically plausible synthesis of pyrimidine β-ribonucleosides and their phosphate derivatives involving photoanomerization   pp303 - 309
Jianfeng Xu, Maria Tsanakopoulou, Christopher J. Magnani, Rafal Szabla, Judit E. Šponer et al.

Although ribose aminooxazoline has been shown to be a potential intermediate in prebiotic pyrimidine ribonucleotide synthesis, a route by which this could occur has remained elusive. Now, a remarkably efficient photoanomerization reaction has been investigated by theory and experiment. The new route affords enantiomerically pure ribonucleotides when the starting material is enantioenriched.
Chemical compounds

Prebiotic synthesis of phosphoenol pyruvate by α-phosphorylation-controlled triose glycolysis   pp310 - 317
Adam J. Coggins and Matthew W. Powner

Chemical reconstitution of the triose glycolysis pathway is controlled by α-phosphorylation and provides a generational link between prebiotic ribonucleotide synthesis, triose glycolysis and serine metabolism. Now, research suggests that unification of nucleotide synthesis and triose metabolism may have been a fundamentally important step towards the origins of life.
Chemical compounds

A viscous solvent enables information transfer from gene-length nucleic acids in a model prebiotic replication cycle   pp318 - 324
Christine He, Isaac Gállego, Brandon Laughlin, Martha A. Grover and Nicholas V. Hud

An unanswered question in the RNA world scenario is how sequence information could be transferred during replication of duplex RNA. Without the aid of sophisticated enzymes, strand reannealing occurs more quickly than template-directed synthesis. Now, a plausible prebiotic solution to this problem is presented, in which a viscous solvent enables information transfer from a gene-length double-stranded template.

Simple peptides derived from the ribosomal core potentiate RNA polymerase ribozyme function   pp325 - 332
Shunsuke Tagami, James Attwater and Philipp Holliger

Lysine-rich peptides from the ribosomal core and derived homolysine decapeptides of either L-, D- or mixed chirality have now been shown to enhance RNA polymerase ribozyme activity at low magnesium concentrations, accelerate ribozyme evolution and enable templated RNA synthesis within membranous protocells.

Atomically precise organomimetic cluster nanomolecules assembled via perfluoroaryl-thiol SNAr chemistry   pp333 - 340
Elaine A. Qian, Alex I. Wixtrom, Jonathan C. Axtell, Azin Saebi, Dahee Jung et al.

The operational simplicity of modifying the surfaces of thiol-capped gold nanoparticles has been a hallmark of their success in materials chemistry, despite having limited control over the surface composition. Now, SNAr chemistry on activated perfluoroaromatics has been shown to mimic this simplicity and allow for the synthesis of atomically precise nanomolecules.
Chemical compounds
See also: News and Views by Majewski et al.

Dynamics of the triplet-pair state reveals the likely coexistence of coherent and incoherent singlet fission in crystalline hexacene   pp341 - 346
Nicholas R. Monahan, Dezheng Sun, Hiroyuki Tamura, Kristopher W. Williams, Bolei Xu et al.

Singlet fission — the splitting of a singlet exciton into two triplets — is a process that could be exploited to improve the power conversion efficiency of solar cells. Spectroscopic data now suggest that coherent and incoherent mechanisms for singlet fission in crystalline hexacene coexist and occur on different timescales.

Surfactant-free single-layer graphene in water   pp347 - 352
George Bepete, Eric Anglaret, Luca Ortolani, Vittorio Morandi, Kai Huang et al.

Aggregation usually prevents dissolution of graphene in water. Now, hydroxide ion adsorption has been shown to allow the stabilization of true single-layer graphene in water — with no surfactant required — so long as the liquid is degassed beforehand. The resulting aqueous dispersions can contain high concentrations of exfoliated graphene that are stable for several months.

Computational design of self-assembling cyclic protein homo-oligomers   pp353 - 360
Jorge A. Fallas, George Ueda, William Sheffler, Vanessa Nguyen, Dan E. McNamara et al.

A computational method to design cyclic protein homo-oligomers has been developed. Using this approach, a series of idealized repeat proteins incorporating designed interfaces that direct their assembly into complexes possessing cyclic symmetry were fabricated. 15 out of 96 oligomers that were characterized experimentally were shown to be consistent with the computational model.

Remote C−H alkylation and C−C bond cleavage enabled by an in situ generated palladacycle   pp361 - 368
Juntao Ye, Zhihao Shi, Theresa Sperger, Yoshifumi Yasukawa, Cian Kingston et al.

Existing methods for C–H activation depend on pre-installed directing groups, the removal of which poses a practical limitation on the use of these reactions in synthesis. Now, a remote-selective C−H alkylation reaction of arenes using an in situ generated spiropalladacycle has been shown to furnish benzofurans and indoles without the need for a directing group.
Chemical compounds
See also: News and Views by Murakami & Ishida

Real-time molecular scale observation of crystal formation   pp369 - 373
Roy E. Schreiber, Lothar Houben, Sharon G. Wolf, Gregory Leitus, Zhong-Ling Lang et al.

Homogeneous crystal nucleation has now been observed by transmission electron microscopy in real time on a molecular scale. Countercation-dependent observations of polyoxometalate proto-crystal formation confirm existence of a higher energy classical molecular attachment mechanism, as well as a lower energy two-step mechanism via an intermediate dense phase.

Aldehydes as alkyl carbanion equivalents for additions to carbonyl compounds   pp374 - 378
Haining Wang, Xi-Jie Dai and Chao-Jun Li

Methods utilizing renewable feedstocks are critical to accessing molecules of industrial importance in light of the present ecological and economic climate. Here, it is shown that umpolung reactivity of carbonyl compounds can be used for nucleophilic additions to yield a diverse array of valuable alcohols as an alternative to using stoichiometric organometallic reagents.
Chemical compounds

Entomopathogenic bacteria use multiple mechanisms for bioactive peptide library design   pp379 - 386
Xiaofeng Cai, Sarah Nowak, Frank Wesche, Iris Bischoff, Marcel Kaiser et al.

Nature has evolved a variety of different mechanisms to generate chemical diversity; however, the reactions responsible for generating such diverse chemical libraries are often not clear. Now, the mechanisms employed by entomopathogenic bacteria for the biosynthesis of a large family of bioactive peptides have been identified. These include substrate promiscuity, enzyme cross-talk and enzyme stoichiometry.
Chemical compounds

Seven enzymes create extraordinary molecular complexity in an uncultivated bacterium   pp387 - 395
Michael F. Freeman, Maximilian J. Helf, Agneya Bhushan, Brandon I. Morinaka and Jörn Piel

Polytheonamides are giant peptide toxins produced by the uncultivated sponge bacterium Entotheonella factor. The biosynthesis of polytheonamides involves up to 50 post-translational modifications. Now, heterologous expression in Escherichia coli and Rhizobium hosts have shown that a minimalistic, iterative enzyme set introduces this exceptional molecular complexity via epimerizations, C-/N-methylations, hydroxylations, dehydration and proteolytic maturation.

An iron-catalysed C–C bond-forming spirocyclization cascade providing sustainable access to new 3D heterocyclic frameworks   pp396 - 401
Kirsty Adams, Anthony K. Ball, James Birkett, Lee Brown, Ben Chappell et al.

The use of earth-abundant metals in catalysis is a prerequisite for the development of sustainable synthetic chemical processes for the future. Now, biomass-derived chemicals can be used in an efficient iron-catalysed reaction to make complex spirocycles. The resulting products contain two asymmetric centres that are furnished in high stereoselectivity.
Chemical compounds

In Your Element


Iterations of ytterbium   p402
Alasdair Skelton and Brett F. Thornton
Alasdair Skelton and Brett F. Thornton examine the twisting path through the several discoveries of ytterbium, from the eighteenth century to the present.

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