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Journal: Angewandte Chemie (International ed. in English)


During the beer brewing process, bitter tasting cis and trans iso-α-acids are generated from the precursor α-acids found in hops. The absolute configurations of the α-acid (-)-humulone and several of its derivatives have now been elucidated by X-ray crystallography, thus resolving decades of confusion over the humulone isomerization mechanism.

Concepts: X-ray, X-ray crystallography, Brewing, Beer, Hops, Brewery


Strongly luminescent iridium(III) complexes, [Ir(C,N)2 (S,S)](+) (1) and [Ir(C,N)2 (O,O)] (2), containing C,N (phenylquinoline), O,O (diketonate), or S,S (dithione) chelating ligands, have been characterized by X-ray crystallography and DFT calculations. Their long phosphorescence lifetimes in living cancer cells give rise to high quantum yields for the generation of (1) O2 , with large 2-photon absorption cross-sections. 2 is nontoxic to cells, but potently cytotoxic to cancer cells upon brief irradiation with low doses of visible light, and potent at sub-micromolar doses towards 3D multicellular tumor spheroids with 2-photon red light. Photoactivation causes oxidative damage to specific histidine residues in the key proteins in aldose reductase and heat-shock protein-70 within living cancer cells. The oxidative stress induced by iridium photosensitizers during photoactivation can increase the levels of enzymes involved in the glycolytic pathway.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Cell, Cancer, Adenosine triphosphate, X-ray, Glucose, Oxidative phosphorylation


Precise spatiotemporal control of physiological processes by optogenetic devices inspired by synthetic biology may provide novel treatment opportunities for gene- and cell-based therapies. An erectile optogenetic stimulator (EROS), a synthetic designer guanylate cyclase producing a blue-light-inducible surge of the second messenger cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) in mammalian cells, enabled blue-light-dependent penile erection associated with occasional ejaculation after illumination of EROS-transfected corpus cavernosum in male rats. Photostimulated short-circuiting of complex psychological, neural, vascular, and endocrine factors to stimulate penile erection in the absence of sexual arousal may foster novel advances in the treatment of erectile dysfunction.

Concepts: Sexual intercourse, Andrology, Erectile dysfunction, Ejaculation, Penis, Cyclic guanosine monophosphate, Erection, Sexual arousal


Silicon analogues of the most prominent carbon nanostructures, namely, hollow spheroidals such as C60 and the fullerene family, have been unknown to date. Herein we show that discrete Si20 dodecahedra, stabilized by an endohedral guest and valence saturation, are accessible in preparative yields through a chloride-induced disproportionation reaction of hexachlorodisilane in the presence of tri(n-butyl)amine. X-ray crystallography revealed that each silicon dodecahedron contains an endohedral chloride ion that imparts a net negative charge. Eight chloro substituents and twelve trichlorosilyl groups are attached to the surface of each cluster in a strictly regioregular arrangement, a thermodynamically preferred substitution pattern according to quantum-chemical assessment. Our results demonstrate that the wet-chemical self-assembly of a complex, monodisperse Si nanostructure is possible under mild conditions starting from simple Si2 building blocks.

Concepts: Electron, Electric charge, Carbon, Sodium chloride, Ion, X-ray crystallography, Chlorine, Chloride


Messenger RNA (mRNA) represents a promising class of nucleic acid drugs. Although numerous carriers have been developed for mRNA delivery, the inefficient mRNA expression inside cells remains a major challenge. Inspired by the dependence of mRNA on 3'-terminal polyadenosine nucleotides (poly A) and poly A binding proteins (PABPs) for optimal expression, we complexed synthetic mRNA containing a poly A tail with PABPs in a stoichiometric manner and stabilized the ribonucleoproteins (RNPs) with a family of polypeptides bearing different arrangements of cationic side groups. We found that the molecular structure of these polypeptides modulates the degree of PABP-mediated enhancement of mRNA expression. This strategy elicits an up to 20-fold increase in mRNA expression in vitro and an approximately fourfold increase in mice. These findings suggest a set of new design principles for gene delivery by the synergistic co-assembly of mRNA with helper proteins.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Cell nucleus, Gene expression, Transcription, RNA, Messenger RNA, Polyadenylation


Following his seminal work in 1953, Stanley Miller conducted an experiment in 1958 to study the polymerization of amino acids under simulated early Earth conditions. In the experiment, Miller sparked a gas mixture of CH4 , NH3 , and H2 O, while intermittently adding the plausible prebiotic condensing reagent cyanamide. For unknown reasons, an analysis of the samples was not reported. We analyzed the archived samples for amino acids, dipeptides, and diketopiperazines by liquid chromatography, ion mobility spectrometry, and mass spectrometry. A dozen amino acids, 10 glycine-containing dipeptides, and 3 glycine-containing diketopiperazines were detected. Miller’s experiment was repeated and similar polymerization products were observed. Aqueous heating experiments indicate that Strecker synthesis intermediates play a key role in facilitating polymerization. These results highlight the potential importance of condensing reagents in generating diversity within the prebiotic chemical inventory.

Concepts: Protein, Amino acid, Acid, Amine, Ammonia, Mass spectrometry, Hydrogen, Chemistry


The first total synthesis of the dimeric berberine alkaloid ilicifoline (ilicifoline B) is reported. Its carbon skeleton is constructed from ferulic acid, veratrole, and methanol. The synthesis reported herein employs starting materials solely derived from wood. The natural product is thus constructed entirely from renewable resources. The same strategy is applied to a formal total synthesis of morphinan alkaloids. The use of wood-derived building blocks (xylochemicals) instead of the conventional petrochemicals represents a sustainable alternative to classical synthetic approaches.

Concepts: Oxygen, Alcohol, Total synthesis, Natural resource, Paclitaxel, Alkaloid, Natural products, Natural capital


Easy peasy: The title reaction employs N-formylsaccharin, which is an easily accessible crystalline compound, as an effective CO source. The reactions proceed with a small excess of the CO source at moderate temperatures and were successfully applied to a wide range of aryl bromides. DMF=N,N-dimethylformamide, dppb=1,4-bis-(diphenylphosphino)butane.

Concepts: Chemical reaction


A synthesis fit for a king: The total synthesis of (±)-kingianins A, D, and F has been achieved in ten steps. Key features include the gram-scale synthesis and partial reduction of a conjugated tetrayne to a (Z,Z,Z,Z)-tetraene, the domino 8π-6π electrocyclic ring closure of a (Z,Z,Z,Z)-tetraene, and the radical-cation-catalyzed formal Diels-Alder dimerization of functionalized bicyclo[4.2.0]octadiene precursors.

Concepts: Total synthesis, Paclitaxel total synthesis, Chemical synthesis, Vector space, Formal language


Confined to one cell: A method to detect and isolate single circulating melanoma cells (CMCs; see figure) has been produced by integrating a polymer-nanofiber-embedded nanovelcro cell-affinity assay with a laser microdissection (LMD) technique. This method is able to separate CMCs from normal white blood cells (WBCs) and sequence individual cells for a specific mutation related to cancer progression, allowing for more personalized cancer therapy.

Concepts: Immune system, White blood cell, DNA, Protein, Gene, Cell division, Leukemia, DNA replication