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Current Opinion in Chemical Biology

Christine Hinz, Sonia Liggi, Julian L Griffin
Lipids are a large and highly diverse family of biomolecules, which play essential structural, storage and signalling roles in cells and tissues. Although traditional mass spectrometry (MS) approaches used in lipidomics are highly sensitive and selective, lipid analysis remains challenging due to the chemical diversity of lipid structures, multiple isobaric species and incomplete separation using many forms of chromatography. Ion mobility (IM) separates ions in the gas phase based on their physicochemical properties...
November 13, 2017: Current Opinion in Chemical Biology
Zhiwei Zhou, Jia Tu, Zheng-Jiang Zhu
Metabolomics and lipidomics aim to comprehensively measure the dynamic changes of all metabolites and lipids that are present in biological systems. The use of ion mobility-mass spectrometry (IM-MS) for metabolomics and lipidomics has facilitated the separation and the identification of metabolites and lipids in complex biological samples. The collision cross-section (CCS) value derived from IM-MS is a valuable physiochemical property for the unambiguous identification of metabolites and lipids. However, CCS values obtained from experimental measurement and computational modeling are limited available, which significantly restricts the application of IM-MS...
November 11, 2017: Current Opinion in Chemical Biology
Shannon N Nangle, Kelsey K Sakimoto, Pamela A Silver, Daniel G Nocera
An expanding renewable energy market to supplant petrochemicals has motivated synthesis technologies that use renewable feedstocks, such as CO2. Hybrid biological-inorganic systems provide a sustainable, efficient, versatile, and inexpensive chemical synthesis platform. These systems comprise biocompatible electrodes that transduce electrical energy either directly or indirectly into bioavailable energy, such as H2 and NAD(P)H. In combination, specific bacteria use these energetic reducing equivalents to fix CO2 into multi-carbon organic compounds...
November 11, 2017: Current Opinion in Chemical Biology
Taotao Zou, Chun-Nam Lok, Pui-Ki Wan, Zhi-Feng Zhang, Sin-Ki Fung, Chi-Ming Che
Transition metal compounds are a rich source for anticancer drug development. Judicious application of coordination ligands is a critical success factor in the design of effective anti-tumor compounds. N-heterocyclic carbenes (NHC) are stable ligands that have strong donor strengths in stabilizing metal ions and versatility in structural modifications to provide diverse scaffolds for biological molecular targeting. Remarkable advances have been achieved in the development of metal NHC complexes as anticancer as well as theranostic agents...
November 10, 2017: Current Opinion in Chemical Biology
Gili Ben-Nissan, Michal Sharon
Ion-mobility mass spectrometry (IM-MS) is an approach that can provide information on the stoichiometry, composition, protein contacts and topology of protein complexes. The power of this approach lies not only in its sensitivity and speed of analysis, but also in the fact that it is a technique that can capture the repertoire of conformational states adopted by protein assemblies. Here, we describe the array of available IM-MS based tools, and demonstrate their application to the structural characterization of various protein complexes, including challenging systems as amyloid aggregates and membrane proteins...
November 8, 2017: Current Opinion in Chemical Biology
Yong-Su Jin, Jamie Hd Cate
Production of biofuels from lignocellulosic biomass remains an unsolved challenge in industrial biotechnology. Efforts to use yeast for conversion face the question of which host organism to use, counterbalancing the ease of genetic manipulation with the promise of robust industrial phenotypes. Saccharomyces cerevisiae remains the premier host for metabolic engineering of biofuel pathways, due to its many genetic, systems and synthetic biology tools. Numerous engineering strategies for expanding substrate ranges and diversifying products of S...
November 8, 2017: Current Opinion in Chemical Biology
Margit Winkler
Carboxylate reductases (CARs) are emerging as valuable catalysts for the selective one-step reduction of carboxylic acids to their corresponding aldehydes. The substrate scope of CARs is exceptionally broad and offers potential for their application in diverse synthetic processes. Two major fields of application are the preparation of aldehydes as end products for the flavor and fragrance sector and the integration of CARs in cascade reactions with aldehydes as the key intermediates. The latest applications of CARs are dominated by in vivo cascades and chemo-enzymatic reaction sequences...
November 8, 2017: Current Opinion in Chemical Biology
Eyal Peer, Gideon Rechavi, Dan Dominissini
Cellular RNAs can be modified post-transcriptionally with dynamic and reversible chemical modifications. These modifications can alter the structure and metabolism of mRNA, but only recent methodological and conceptual advances allowed systematic mapping and functional analysis to unfold the role they play in mRNA biology. Mapping the most common internal mRNA modification, N(6)-methyladenosine (m(6)A), paved the way for the deciphering of other types of mRNA modifications, such as N(1)-methyladenosine (m(1)A)...
November 7, 2017: Current Opinion in Chemical Biology
Bastian Molitor, Esteban Marcellin, Largus T Angenent
The fermentation of synthesis gas (including carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and hydrogen) with anaerobic acetogens is an established biotechnological process that has recently been transferred to a commercial scale. The natural product spectrum of acetogens is natively restricted to acetate, ethanol, and 2,3-butanediol but is rapidly expanding to heterologous products. Syngas fermentation can achieve high carbon-efficiencies; however, the underlying metabolism is operating at a thermodynamic limit. This necessitates special enzymatic properties for energy conservation by acetogens...
November 6, 2017: Current Opinion in Chemical Biology
Christian Manz, Kevin Pagel
Due to the existence of numerous isomers, the in-depth analysis of glycans represents a major challenge. Currently, the majority of glycans are analysed using mass spectrometry (MS)-based techniques, which can provide information on regioisomers but usually fail to differentiate stereoisomers. A promising approach to overcome this limitation is to implement ion mobility spectrometry (IMS) as an additional gas-phase separation dimension. This review highlights recent developments in which IM-MS was used as a tool for comprehensive glycan analysis or as rapid screening method for glycan feature analysis...
November 3, 2017: Current Opinion in Chemical Biology
Aiming Ren, Ronald Micura, Dinshaw J Patel
Small self-cleaving ribozymes are widely distributed in nature and are essential for rolling-circle-based replication of satellite and pathogenic RNAs. Earlier structure-function studies on the hammerhead, hairpin, glmS, hepatitis delta virus and Varkud satellite ribozymes have provided insights into their overall architecture, their catalytic active site organization, and the role of nearby nucleobases and hydrated divalent cations in facilitating general acid-base and electrostatic-mediated catalysis. This review focuses on recent structure-function research on active site alignments and catalytic mechanisms of the Rzb hammerhead ribozyme, as well as newly-identified pistol, twister and twister-sister ribozymes...
November 3, 2017: Current Opinion in Chemical Biology
Gideon Grogan
Chiral amines feature in a large number of small molecule pharmaceuticals, and thus methods for their asymmetric synthesis are of considerable interest. Biocatalytic approaches have come to the fore in recent years as these offer advantages of superior atom economy, mild reaction conditions and excellent stereoselectivity. Advances in redox cofactor process technology have meant that oxidoreductase enzymes in particular now have growing potential as industrial catalysts for amine formation. In this review we survey recent developments in the discovery and application of oxidoreductase enzymes for amine production, including Monoamine Oxidases (MAOs), engineered and natural Amine Dehydrogenases (AmDHs), Imine Reductases (IREDs) and Reductive Aminases (RedAms), in addition to their application in enzyme cascades...
October 31, 2017: Current Opinion in Chemical Biology
Yannick J Bomble, Chien-Yuan Lin, Antonella Amore, Hui Wei, Evert K Holwerda, Peter N Ciesielski, Bryon S Donohoe, Stephen R Decker, Lee R Lynd, Michael E Himmel
Microorganisms have evolved different and yet complementary mechanisms to degrade biomass in the biosphere. The chemical biology of lignocellulose deconstruction is a complex and intricate process that appears to vary in response to specific ecosystems. These microorganisms rely on simple to complex arrangements of glycoside hydrolases to conduct most of these polysaccharide depolymerization reactions and also, as discovered more recently, oxidative mechanisms via lytic polysaccharide monooxygenases or non-enzymatic Fenton reactions which are used to enhance deconstruction...
October 31, 2017: Current Opinion in Chemical Biology
Sinisa Bratulic, Ahmed H Badran
Genetic variation fuels Darwinian evolution, yet spontaneous mutation rates are maintained at low levels to ensure cellular viability. Low mutation rates preclude the exhaustive exploration of sequence space for protein evolution and genome engineering applications, prompting scientists to develop methods for efficient and targeted diversification of nucleic acid sequences. Directed evolution of biomolecules relies upon the generation of unbiased genetic diversity to discover variants with desirable properties, whereas genome-engineering applications require selective modifications on a genomic scale with minimal off-targets...
October 30, 2017: Current Opinion in Chemical Biology
Teresa Mairinger, Tim J Causon, Stephan Hann
Non-targeted analysis of metabolites in hypothesis-generating workflows has proven its potential to answer essential questions that arise when dealing with complex biological systems. Nevertheless, tracking changes in perturbed systems via accurate quantification and the identification process itself represent the most critical challenges in these workflows. Recent advances in ion mobility-mass spectrometry have enabled this technique to increase the confidence of metabolite annotation by introducing a complementary conditional molecular descriptor, that is collision cross section...
October 28, 2017: Current Opinion in Chemical Biology
Eunju Nam, Jiyeon Han, Jong-Min Suh, Yelim Yi, Mi Hee Lim
Manganese, iron, copper, and zinc are observed to play essential roles in mitochondria. The overload and depletion of metal ions in mitochondria under pathological conditions, however, could disturb mitochondrial compartments and functions leading to cell death. In this review, we mainly summarize how impaired metal ion homeostasis affects mitochondrial systems, such as membrane potentials, the tricarboxylic acid cycle, oxidative phosphorylation, and glutathione metabolism. In addition, based on current findings, we briefly describe a recent understanding of the relationship among metal ion dysregulation, mitochondrial dysfunction, and the pathogeneses of neurodegenerative diseases...
October 27, 2017: Current Opinion in Chemical Biology
Yifeng Wei, Ee Lui Ang, Huimin Zhao
Cytochrome P450 monooxygenases (P450s) catalyze regioselective and stereoselective oxidative modifications of a wide variety of substrates, and are involved in the biosynthesis of many natural products. Despite the complex requirements of the P450 reaction system and its intransigence to recombinant expression, the promise of harnessing P450 reactivity for the industrial-scale production of specialty chemicals has led to much effort invested in P450 engineering. Here we review recent developments (between 2015 and 2017) in the application of P450s and their engineered variants as biocatalysts...
October 27, 2017: Current Opinion in Chemical Biology
Kaitlin M Pugliese, Gregory A Weiss
DNA polymerases must discriminate the correct Watson-Crick base pair-forming deoxynucleoside triphosphate (dNTP) substrate from three other dNTPs and additional triphosphates found in the cell. The rarity of misincorporations in vivo, then, belies the high tolerance for dNTP analogs observed in vitro. Advances over the last 10 years in single-molecule fluorescence and electronic detection of dNTP analog incorporation enable exploration of the mechanism and limits to base discrimination by DNA polymerases. Such studies reveal transient motions of DNA polymerase during substrate recognition and mutagenesis in the context of erroneous dNTP incorporation that can lead to evolution and genetic disease...
October 27, 2017: Current Opinion in Chemical Biology
Zhengwei Chen, Matthew S Glover, Lingjun Li
Glycans and glycoconjugates are involved in regulating a vast array of cellular and molecular processes. Despite the importance of glycans in biology and disease, characterization of glycans remains difficult due to their structural complexity and diversity. Mass spectrometry (MS)-based techniques have emerged as the premier analytical tools for characterizing glycans. However, traditional MS-based strategies struggle to distinguish the large number of coexisting isomeric glycans that are indistinguishable by mass alone...
October 25, 2017: Current Opinion in Chemical Biology
Philip Yuk Kwong Yung, Simon J Elsässer
The central dogma of gene expression entails the flow of genetic information from DNA to RNA, then to protein. Decades of studies on epigenetics have characterized an additional layer of information, where epigenetic states help to shape differential utilization of genetic information. Orchestrating conditional gene expressions to elicit a defined phenotype and function, epigenetics states distinguish different cell types or maintain a long-lived memory of past signals. Packaging the genetic information in the nucleus of the eukaryotic cell, chromatin provides a large regulatory repertoire that capacitates the genome to give rise to many distinct epigenomes...
October 24, 2017: Current Opinion in Chemical Biology
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