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Concept: Enzyme catalysis


Platinum-nanoparticle-based catalysts are widely used in many important chemical processes and automobile industries. Downsizing catalyst nanoparticles to single atoms is highly desirable to maximize their use efficiency, however, very challenging. Here we report a practical synthesis for isolated single Pt atoms anchored to graphene nanosheet using the atomic layer deposition (ALD) technique. ALD offers the capability of precise control of catalyst size span from single atom, subnanometer cluster to nanoparticle. The single-atom catalysts exhibit significantly improved catalytic activity (up to 10 times) over that of the state-of-the-art commercial Pt/C catalyst. X-ray absorption fine structure (XAFS) analyses reveal that the low-coordination and partially unoccupied densities of states of 5d orbital of Pt atoms are responsible for the excellent performance. This work is anticipated to form the basis for the exploration of a next generation of highly efficient single-atom catalysts for various applications.

Concepts: Chemical reaction, Hydrogen, Catalysis, Atom, Ribozyme, Catalytic converter, Solid, Enzyme catalysis


The membrane heme protein cytochrome b5 (b5) can enhance, inhibit, or have no effect on cytochrome P450 (P450) catalysis, depending on the specific P450, substrate, and reaction conditions, but the structural basis remains unclear. Herein the interactions between the soluble domain of microsomal b5 and the catalytic domain of the bi-functional steroidogenic cytochrome P450 17A1 (CYP17A1) were investigated. CYP17A1 performs both steroid hydroxylation, which is unaffected by b5, and an androgen-forming lyase reaction which is facilitated 10-fold by b5. NMR chemical shift mapping of b5 titrations with CYP17A1 indicate that the interaction occurs in an intermediate exchange regime and identifies charged surface residues involved in the protein/protein interface. The role of these residues is confirmed by disruption of the complex upon mutagenesis of either the anionic b5 residues (E48 or E49) or the corresponding cationic CYP17A1 residues (R347, R358, or R449). Cytochrome b5 binding to CYP17A1 is also mutually exclusive with binding of NADPH-cytochrome P450 reductase (CPR). To probe the differential effects of b5 on the two CYP17A1-mediated reactions and thus communication between the superficial b5 binding site and the buried CYP17A1 active site, CYP17A1/b5 complex formation was characterized with either hydroxylase or lyase substrates bound to CYP17A1. Significantly, the CYP17A1/b5 interaction is stronger when the hydroxylase substrate pregnenolone is present in the CYP17A1 active site than when the lyase substrate 17α-hydroxypregnenolone is in the active site. These findings form the basis for a clearer understanding of this important interaction by directly measuring the reversible binding of the two proteins, providing evidence of communication between the CYP17A1 active site and the superficial proximal b5 binding site.

Concepts: Metabolism, Enzyme, Catalysis, Cytochrome P450, Enzyme inhibitor, Steroid, Enzyme catalysis, CYP17A1


Sucrose isomerase NX-5 from Erwiniarhapontici efficiently catalyzes the isomerization of sucrose to isomaltulose (main product) and trehalulose (by-product). To investigate the molecular mechanism controlling sucrose isomer formation, we determined the crystal structures of native NX-5 and its mutant complexes E295Q/sucrose and D241A/glucose at 1.70 Å, 1.70 Å and 2.00 Å, respectively. The overall structure and active site architecture of NX-5 resemble those of other reported sucrose isomerases. Strikingly, the substrate binding mode of NX-5 is also similar to that of trehalulose synthase from Pseudomonasmesoacidophila MX-45 (MutB). Detailed structural analysis revealed the catalytic RXDRX motif and the adjacent 10-residue loop of NX-5 and isomaltulose synthase PalI from Klebsiella sp. LX3 adopt a distinct orientation from those of trehalulose synthases. Mutations of the loop region of NX-5 resulted in significant changes of the product ratio between isomaltulose and trehalulose. The molecular dynamics simulation data supported the product specificity of NX-5 towards isomaltulose and the role of the loop(330-339) in NX-5 catalysis. This work should prove useful for the engineering of sucrose isomerase for industrial carbohydrate biotransformations.

Concepts: Enzyme, Molecular dynamics, Structure, Hydrogen, Catalysis, Solid, Enzyme catalysis, Erwinia


Generally, a homogeneous catalyst exhibits good activity and defined active sites but it is difficult to recycle. Meanwhile, a heterogeneous catalyst can easily be reused but its active site is difficult to reveal. It is interesting to bridge the gap between homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysis via controllable construction of a heterogeneous catalyst containing defined active sites. Here, we report that a molecularly defined, single-active site heterogeneous catalyst has been designed and prepared via the oxidative polymerization of maleimide derivatives. These polymaleimide derivatives can be active catalysts for the selective oxidation of heterocyclic compounds to quinoline and indole via the recycling of -C=O and -C-OH groups, which was confirmed by tracing the reaction with GC-MS using maleimide as the catalyst and by FT-IR analysis with polymaleimide as the catalyst. These results might promote the development of heterogeneous catalysts with molecularly defined single active sites exhibiting a comparable activity to homogeneous catalysts.

Concepts: Enzyme, Hydrogen, Electrochemistry, Catalysis, Heterogeneous catalysis, Hydrogenation, Nitrogen, Enzyme catalysis


Ring-opening polymerization of lactones is a versatile approach to generate well-defined functional polyesters. Typical ring-opening catalysts are subject to a trade-off between rate and selectivity. Here we describe an effective catalytic system combining alkoxides with thioureas that catalyses rapid and selective ring-opening polymerizations. Deprotonation of thioureas by sodium, potassium or imidazolium alkoxides generates a hydrogen-bonded alcohol adduct of the thiourea anion (thioimidate). The ring-opening polymerization of L-lactide mediated by these alcohol-bonded thioimidates yields highly isotactic polylactide with fast kinetics and living polymerization behaviour, as evidenced by narrow molecular weight distributions (Mw/Mn < 1.1), chain extension experiments and minimal transesterifications. Computational studies indicate a bifunctional catalytic mechanism whereby the thioimidate activates the carbonyl of the monomer and the alcohol initiator/chain end to effect the selective ring-opening of lactones and carbonates. The high selectivity of the catalyst towards monomer propagation over transesterification is attributed to a selective activation of monomer over polymer chains.

Concepts: Hydrogen, Catalysis, Polymer, Polymer chemistry, Monomer, Functional groups, Enzyme catalysis, Polymerization


A tandem reaction between N'-(2-alkynylbenzylidene)hydrazide and cycloprop-2-ene-1,1-dicarboxylate co-catalyzed by silver triflate and tris(triphenylphosphine)rhodium chloride is reported. The reaction proceeds through 6-endo-cyclization, [3 + 2] cycloaddition, cyclopropane opening, and aromatization, leading to pyrazolo[5,1-a]isoquinolines in moderate to good yields.

Concepts: Chemical reaction, Catalysis, Enzyme catalysis, Ozone, Cyclopropane


I could never be without Cu: An active site has been designed for the catalysis of CO electroxidation. This was achieved by incorporating submonolayer amounts of Cu (orange spheres) into a single crystal of Pt (gray spheres). The electrochemical reactivity of this surface was highly sensitive to the exact position of Cu.

Concepts: Enzyme, Catalysis, Solid, Design, Graphic design, Design management, Enzyme catalysis


A new light-driven asymmetric ion-pair catalysis procedure for the metal-free enantioselective hydrogenation of in situ generated pyrylium ions from readily available chalcones was developed. The photo-assisted Brønsted acid catalyzed procedure has broad scope and allows, for the first time, access to valuable 4H-chromenes in good yields and with excellent enantioselectivities.

Concepts: Carcinoma in situ, Hydrogen, Catalysis, Hydrogenation, Solid, In situ, Enzyme catalysis


The catalytic mechanism of the organo-mediated Beckmann rearrangement has been modeled using DFT calculations. Five representative promoters were shown to be initiators rather than catalysts. A self-propagating mechanism is shown to be energetically much more favored than the previously proposed mechanisms involving a Meisenheimer complex.

Concepts: Catalysis, Catalytic converter, Enzyme catalysis, Beckmann rearrangement, Ernst Otto Beckmann, Rearrangement reaction, Meisenheimer complex


The polymixin colistin is a “last line” antibiotic against extensively-resistant Gram-negative bacteria. Recently, the mcr-1 gene was identified as a plasmid-mediated resistance mechanism in human and animal Enterobacteriaceae, with a wide geographical distribution and many producer strains resistant to multiple other antibiotics. mcr-1 encodes a membrane-bound enzyme catalysing phosphoethanolamine transfer onto bacterial lipid A. Here we present crystal structures revealing the MCR-1 periplasmic, catalytic domain to be a zinc metalloprotein with an alkaline phosphatase/sulphatase fold containing three disulphide bonds. One structure captures a phosphorylated form representing the first intermediate in the transfer reaction. Mutation of residues implicated in zinc or phosphoethanolamine binding, or catalytic activity, restores colistin susceptibility of recombinant E. coli. Zinc deprivation reduces colistin MICs in MCR-1-producing laboratory, environmental, animal and human E. coli. Conversely, over-expression of the disulphide isomerase DsbA increases the colistin MIC of laboratory E. coli. Preliminary density functional theory calculations on cluster models suggest a single zinc ion may be sufficient to support phosphoethanolamine transfer. These data demonstrate the importance of zinc and disulphide bonds to MCR-1 activity, suggest that assays under zinc-limiting conditions represent a route to phenotypic identification of MCR-1 producing E. coli, and identify key features of the likely catalytic mechanism.

Concepts: Bacteria, Enzyme, Antibiotic resistance, Catalysis, Escherichia coli, Lipid, Solid, Enzyme catalysis