Enzyme selectivity switch to benefit infant formula production

Elisabeth Ratcliffe writes about a hot ChemComm article for Chemistry World

Baby drinking milk from a bottle

Scientists in Austria who have redesigned the active site of an enzyme to switch its regioselectivity may have latched onto a new way to make molecules that are important for infant formula. The engineered enzyme is almost identical to the original, it just catalyses a slightly different reaction to its twin.

Sialylated human milk oligosaccharides play an important role in infant health and development. They occur naturally in breast milk, but synthetic sialylated oligosaccharides are also in demand to enrich infant formula and other nutraceutical products.


Read the full article in Chemistry World»

Read the original journal article in ChemComm - it’s free to access until 27th April:
Complete switch from α-2,3- to α-2,6-regioselectivity in Pasteurella dagmatis β-D-galactoside sialyltransferase by active-site redesign
Katharina Schmölzer, Tibor Czabany, Christiane Luley-Goedl, Tea Pavkov-Keller, Doris Ribitsch, Helmut Schwab, Karl Gruber, Hansjörg Weber and Bernd Nidetzky  
Chem. Commun., 2015,51, 3083-3086
DOI: 10.1039/C4CC09772F, Communication

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Group 12 members unite in unusual bonding situation

Jennifer Newton writes about a hot ChemComm article for Chemistry World

Chemists in the UK have created the unique trimetallic complex {(Ar’NacNac)Zn}2Hg. At the molecule’s heart lies a Zn–Hg–Zn unit – the first example of a bond between two different group 12 metals. What’s more, this metal chain is also the first example of catenation between group 12 elements other than just mercury. And if that wasn’t quirky enough for you, it is also a rare instance of zinc in the +1 oxidation state.

To make the compound, Philip Mountford, from the University of Oxford, and colleagues reduced (Ar’NacNac)ZnI with a potassium–mercury amalgam. The team is now exploring the chemistry of {(Ar’NacNac)Zn}2Hg and its intermetallic homologues.


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Read the original journal article in ChemComm:
Synthesis, molecular and electronic structure, and reactions of a Zn–Hg–Zn bonded complex
Matthew P. Blake, Nikolas Kaltsoyannis and Philip Mountford  
Chem. Commun., 2015, Advance Article
DOI: 10.1039/C5CC00637F, Communication

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Opening the door to poly(ionic liquid)s with enhanced properties

Kevin Murnaghan is a guest web-writer for Chemical Communications. He is currently a Research Chemist in the Adhesive Technologies Business Sector of Henkel AG & Co. KGaA, based in Düsseldorf, Germany. His research interests focus primarily on enabling chemistries and technologies for next generation adhesives and surface treatments. Any views expressed here are his personal ones and not those of Henkel AG & Co. KGaA.

Poly(ionic liquid)s, or PILs, are polyelectrolytes whose potential uses are being investigated for a variety of technologies, such as batteries, membranes, solar cells and switchable surfaces. In this ChemComm communication, Professor Eric Drockenmuller and co-workers at the Université de Lyon, University of Liège and the Institut Universitaire de France describe a new family of PILs based on poly(vinyl ester 1,2,3-triazolium)s, which should give rise to new properties and application possibilities. 

The materials are prepared from a multistep route making use of `click chemistry´(copper(I) catalysed azide alkyne Huisgen cycloaddition reaction), palladium catalyzed vinyl group exchange, and cobalt mediated radical polymerisation. This route yields a neutral polymer, which is transformed into the poly(ionic liquid) using N-methyl bis[(trifluoromethyl)sulfonyl]imide. This useful reagent alkylates the triazole group present, and delivers the bis[(trifluoromethyl)sulfonyl]imide counterion in one step. 

Synthetic route used to yield new poly(vinyl-ester 1,2,3-triazolium)s

The ionic conductivity for the PIL reported is slightly lower than for other types of PIL. To tune this property, a variety of alkynes and azides are being tested in the ring forming step of the reaction, which will result in different substituents on the triazolium ring and on the spacer group between the polymer backbone and triazolium ring.  Changes in thermal properties in the the neutral precursor-to-PIL stage of the reaction were measured using broadband dielectric spectroscopy. Significant changes in solubility, and a 9⁰C rise in glass transition temperature to -16⁰C, were observed. 

The molecular variety introduced by this new synthetic approach offers large scope for fine tuning the electronic and mechanical material properties of these polyelectrolytes, further enabling their use in important technological applications. 

Read this Chemical Communication today – it’s free to access until 3rd April*: 

Poly(vinyl ester 1,2,3-triazolium)s: a new member of the poly(ionic liquid)s family
M. M. Obadia, G. Colliat-Dangus, A. Debuigne, A. Serghei, C. Detrembleurb and E. Drockenmuller
DOI: 10.1039/c4cc08847f 

*Access is free through a registered RSC account – click here to register

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Top 25 most downloaded ChemComm articles from October–December 2014

ChemComm Issue 76, 2014 front coverRead on to find out which ChemComm articles your colleagues were downloading between October and December 2014!

Synthesis CdSexS1−x core/shell type quantum dotsvia one injection method
Liang-Yih Chen, Ching-Hsiang Chen, Chih-Hsiang Tseng, Feng-Lu Lai and Bing-Joe Hwang  
DOI: 10.1039/C0CC04074F

Graphene/graphite sheet assisted growth of high-areal-density horizontally aligned carbon nanotubes
Huanhuan Xie, Rufan Zhang, Yingying Zhang, Wenlin Zhang, Muqiang Jian, Chunya Wang, Qi Wang and Fei Wei  
DOI: 10.1039/C4CC04434G 

Solution-processable n-type and ambipolar semiconductors based on a fused cyclopentadithiophenebis(dicyanovinylene) core
Xueliang Shia,  Jingjing Changa and Chunyan Chia  
DOI: 10.1039/C3CC43680B

Diastereomeric ratio determination by high sensitivity band-selective pure shift NMR spectroscopy
Ralph W. Adams, Liam Byrne, Péter Király, Mohammadali Foroozandeh, Liladhar Paudel, Mathias Nilsson, Jonathan Clayden and Gareth A. Morris  
DOI: 10.1039/C3CC49659G
Open Access

NMR methodology for complex mixture ‘separation’
Nicholle G. A. Bell, Lorna Murray, Margaret C. Graham and Dušan Uhrín
DOI: 10.1039/C3CC48907H
Open Access

Streptavidin binding as a model to characterize thiol–ene chemistry-based polyamine surfaces for reversible photonic protein biosensing
Eva Melnik, Paul Muellner, Ole Bethge, Emmerich Bertagnolli, Rainer Hainberger and Michael Laemmerhofer  
DOI: 10.1039/C3CC48640K
Open Access

A new approach to improve cycle performance of rechargeable lithium–sulfur batteries by inserting a free-standing MWCNT interlayer
Yu-Sheng Su and Arumugam Manthiram  
DOI: 10.1039/C2CC33945E

Electrically-driven modulation of surface-grafted RGD peptides for manipulation of cell adhesion
Minhaj Lashkor, Frankie J. Rawson, Alex Stephenson-Brown, Jon A. Preece and Paula M. Mendes  
DOI: 10.1039/C4CC06649A
Open Access

Efficient photovoltaic and electroluminescent perovskite devices
Lidón Gil-Escrig, Giulia Longo, Antonio Pertegás, Cristina Roldán-Carmona, A. Soriano, Michele Sessolo and Henk J. Bolink  
DOI: 10.1039/C4CC07518H

Phthalocyanines: a new class of G-quadruplex-ligands with many potential applications
Hidenobu Yaku, Takeshi Fujimoto, Takashi Murashima, Daisuke Miyoshi and Naoki Sugimoto  
DOI: 10.1039/C2CC31037F

Graphene quantum dots: emergent nanolights for bioimaging, sensors, catalysis and photovoltaic devices
Jianhua Shen, Yihua Zhu, Xiaoling Yang and Chunzhong Li  
DOI: 10.1039/C2CC00110A

Nanostructured electrochromic smart windows: traditional materials and NIR-selective plasmonic nanocrystals
Evan L. Runnerstrom, Anna Llordés, Sebastien D. Lounis and Delia J. Milliron  
DOI: 10.1039/C4CC03109A
Open Access

Rh(III)-catalyzed oxidative C–H bond arylation with hydroquinones: sustainable synthesis of dibenzo[b,d]pyran-6-ones and benzo[d]naphtho[1,2-b]pyran-6-ones
Wei Yang, Shan Wang, Qian Zhang, Qun Liu and Xianxiu Xu  
DOI: 10.1039/C4CC08260E

A zirconium squarate metal–organic framework with modulator-dependent molecular sieving properties
Bart Bueken, Helge Reinsch, Nele Reimer, Ivo Stassen, Frederik Vermoortele, Rob Ameloot, Norbert Stock, Christine E. A. Kirschhock and Dirk De Vos  
DOI: 10.1039/C4CC03764B
Open Access

Aggregation-induced emission: phenomenon, mechanism and applications
Yuning Hong, Jacky W. Y. Lam and Ben Zhong Tang   
DOI: 10.1039/B904665H

Energy level tuning of TPB-based hole-transporting materials for highly efficient perovskite solar cells
Yakun Song, Songtao Lv, Xicheng Liu, Xianggao Li, Shirong Wang, Huiyun Wei, Dongmei Li, Yin Xiao and Qingbo Meng    
DOI: 10.1039/C4CC06493C

Ni-Catalyzed α-arylation of esters and amides with phenol derivatives
Eva Koch, Ryosuke Takise, Armido Studer, Junichiro Yamaguchi and Kenichiro Itami
DOI: 10.1039/C4CC08426H
Open Access

Bifunctional covalent organic frameworks with two dimensional organocatalytic micropores
Digambar Balaji Shinde, Sharath Kandambeth, Pradip Pachfule, Raya Rahul Kumar and Rahul Banerjee  
DOI: 10.1039/C4CC07104B

Nitrogen-doped carbon nanotubes and graphene composite structures for energy and catalytic applications
Won Jun Lee, Uday Narayan Maiti, Ju Min Lee, Joonwon Lim, Tae Hee Han and Sang Ouk Kim 
DOI: 10.1039/C4CC00146J

Bay-linked perylene bisimides as promising non-fullerene acceptors for organic solar cells
Wei Jiang, Long Ye, Xiangguang Li, Chengyi Xiao, Fang Tan, Wenchao Zhao, Jianhui Hou and Zhaohui Wang
DOI: 10.1039/C3CC47204C

Selective oxidation of CO in the presence of H2, H2O and CO2via gold for use in fuel cells
Philip Landon, Jonathan Ferguson, Benjamin E. Solsona, Tomas Garcia, Albert F. Carley, Andrew A. Herzing, Christopher J. Kiely, Stanislaw E. Golunski and Graham J. Hutchings
DOI: 10.1039/B505295P

A porous metal–organic framework with –COOH groups for highly efficient pollutant removal
Qi Zhang, Jiancan Yu, Jianfeng Cai, Ruijing Song, Yuanjing Cui, Yu Yang, Banglin Chen and Guodong Qian
DOI: 10.1039/C4CC06648K

Wet chemical synthesis of silver nanorods and nanowires of controllable aspect ratio
Nikhil R. Jana, Latha Gearheart and Catherine J. Murphy  
DOI: 10.1039/B100521I

Reduction of graphene oxide viaL-ascorbic acid
Jiali Zhang, Haijun Yang, Guangxia Shen, Ping Cheng, Jingyan Zhang and Shouwu Guo  
DOI: 10.1039/B917705A

14.8% perovskite solar cells employing carbazole derivatives as hole transporting materials
Sang Do Sung, Min Soo Kang, In Taek Choi, Hong Mo Kim, Hyoungjin Kim, MunPyo Hong, Hwan Kyu Kim and Wan In Lee
DOI: 10.1039/C4CC06716A


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Spicing up MOFs

Victoria Richards writes about a hot ChemComm article for Chemistry World

Curcumin is top of the ingredients list for a highly porous metal–organic framework (MOF) being developed by scientists in China that demonstrates a unique co-release drug delivery system.

MOFs have shown huge potential as drug carriers thanks to their large voids capable of encapsulating a wide variety of guest molecules. However, they are typically built from expensive, petrochemical-derived organic linkers, which, unfortunately, are not biocompatible. To overcome this, a team led by Guangshan Zhu, of Jilin University, has constructed a MOF exclusively from biologically friendly zinc ions and bioactive curcumin – the yellow pigment in the popular Indian spice turmeric, known for its potent anti-cancer properties.


Read the full article in Chemistry World»

Read the original journal article in ChemComm – it’s free to access until 13th April:
A highly porous medical metal–organic framework constructed from bioactive curcumin
Hongmin Su, Fuxing Sun, Jiangtao Jia, Hongming He, Aifei Wang and Guangshan Zhu  
Chem. Commun., 2015, Advance Article
DOI: 10.1039/C4CC10159F, Communication

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Biochemical Logic Systems – closed-loop “Sense/Act” operations

Iain Larmour is a guest web writer for ChemSci. He has researched a wide variety of topics during his years in the lab including nanostructured surfaces for water repellency and developing nanoparticle systems for bioanalysis by surface enhanced optical spectroscopies. He currently works in science management. In his spare time he enjoys reading, photography, art and inventing.

When research in a particular area reaches saturation point, the question of future applications becomes critically important. This recent Feature Article in ChemComm considers molecular logic gates, which have not yet achieved pure computational applications (with their hoped for advantages) due to limitations caused by noise build-up and cross-talk between various biomolecular elements. Thus they are unable to compete with electronic computing devices. The authors ask the question: what potential applications are there that justify the continued research in this field?

Evgeny Katz from the Department of Chemistry and Biomolecular Science at Clarkson University with Sergiy Minko from the Nanostructured Materials Lab at the University of Georgia lead the reader through a short overview of potential answers. These include “smart” switchable membranes, electrodes, biofuel cells and drug-releasing systems.
 
The use of biochemical data processing to produce a yes/no answer provides the opportunity for direct coupling with signal-responsive materials to produce a closed-loop “sense/act” operation. This ability has the potential to transform the field of biosensors and bioactuators.

(A) A biocatalytic cascade activated by enzyme–substrate inputs and resulting in the in situ produced pH changes. (B) The logic circuitry equivalent to the biocatalytic cascade. (C) pH-switchable electrode interface modified with a polymeric brush.

The authors could be considered brave to ask the question of such a popular focus of research, but this article provides an opportunity for reflection and thought about what biochemical computing research can uniquely achieve. Having read this article I was left with a sense of excitement at the specific in vivo sensing possibilities that biochemical computing provides. To find out if you think the opportunities are exciting too, read the article today!

To read the details, check out the ChemComm article in full:
Enzyme-based logic systems interfaced with signal-responsive materials and electrodes
Evgeny Katz and Sergiy Minko
Chem. Commun., 2015, 51, Advance Article
DOI: 10.1039/C4CC09851J

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Ring closing highlights hydrogen bonding

Cally Haynes writes about a hot ChemComm article for Chemistry World

The discolouration rate of a fluorescent dye can act as a visual marker for changes in hydrogen bonding environment, new research shows.

Colourless spiropyrans undergo ring opening to form brightly coloured merocyanines on exposure to UV light. Merocyanines are thermally unstable and relax back to the colourless spiropyrans over time. The merocyanines designed by Simone Ciampi, from the University of Wollongong, Australia, and his colleagues contain a catechol group that can form intramolecular hydrogen bonds, which stabilises the open form and slows down discolouration. However, polar solvents can out-compete intramolecular hydrogen bond formation, and speed up discolouration. In this way, Ciampi’s team were able to visualise the hydrogen bonding character of solvents by adding their dye and observing the rate at which it discoloured.


Read the full article in Chemistry World»

Read the original journal article in ChemComm:
Decoloration rates of a photomerocyanine dye as a visual probe into hydrogen bonding interactions
Simone Ciampi, Paul K. Eggers, Naomi L. Haworth, Nadim Darwish, Pawel Wagner, Michelle L. Coote, Gordon G. Wallace and Colin L. Raston  
Chem. Commun., 2015, Advance Article
DOI: 10.1039/C4CC09857A, Communication

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Unexpected success with luminescent liquid crystals

Hugh Cowley writes about a hot ChemComm article for Chemistry World

A simple and effective procedure to incorporate strongly-emitting inorganic clusters into nematic liquid crystals has been reported by a team from France. By combining the supramolecular paradigms of host–guest chemistry and electrostatic interactions the team have overcome previously insurmountable limitations of liquid crystalline materials.

Liquid crystals, which exhibit long-range directional order but also flow like a liquid, are a prominent feature of modern technology. They are commonly used as temperature sensors and their nematic phase is an integral component in liquid crystal display (LCD) technology.


Read the full article in Chemistry World»

Read the original journal article in ChemComm – it’s free to access until 19th March:
From metallic cluster-based ceramics to nematic hybrid liquid crystals: a double supramolecular approach
Susanta K. Nayak, Maria Amela-Cortes, Claire Roiland, Stéphane Cordier and Yann Molard  
Chem. Commun., 2015, Advance Article
DOI: 10.1039/C4CC10085A, Communication

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Exploiting the chirality of DNA

Elisabeth Ratcliffe writes about a hot ChemComm article for Chemistry World

Scientists in France and Germany have made use of DNA as part of a catalytic system for various enantioselective alkylations and addition reactions.

DNA has emerged as an innovative way of controlling the chirality of a reaction product; by binding catalysts in such a way that one enantiomer is preferentially generated. The chiral nature of the helix makes it ideal for asymmetric catalysis. However, this field of research is still in its infancy…


Read the full article in Chemistry World»

Read the original journal article in ChemComm – it’s free to access until 19th March:
DNA-cellulose: an economical, fully recyclable and highly effective chiral biomaterial for asymmetric catalysis
Erica Benedetti, Nicolas Duchemin, Lucas Bethge, Stefan Vonhoff, Sven Klussmann, Jean-Jacques Vasseur, Janine Cossy, Michael Smietana and Stellios Arseniyadis  
Chem. Commun., 2015, Advance Article
DOI: 10.1039/C4CC10190A, Communication

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A sticky way to inspect self-cleaning glass

Anisha Ratan writes about a hot ChemComm article for Chemistry World

Reusable colour-changing sticky labels that act as a cheap and easy way to check the activity of photocatalysis-based self-cleaning glass have been designed by scientists in the UK.

Interest in self-cleaning technologies, including semiconductor photocatalysis (SPC), has been on the increase since the commercialisation of self-cleaning glass by Pilkington in 2001. However, SPC, a process by which light activation of a surface coating, usually titanium dioxide, facilitates the breakdown of organic dirt, is difficult to measure as most coatings are invisible to the eye.


Read the full article in Chemistry World»

Read the original journal article in ChemComm – it’s free to access until 12th March:
Smart, reusable labels for assessing self-cleaning films
A. Mills and N. Wells  
Chem. Commun., 2015, Advance Article
DOI: 10.1039/C4CC09734C, Communication

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