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The Diels-Alder reaction is a cornerstone in organic synthesis, forming two carbon-carbon bonds and up to four new stereogenic centers in one step. No naturally occurring enzymes have been shown to catalyze bimolecular Diels-Alder reactions. We describe the de novo computational design and experimental characterization of enzymes catalyzing a bimolecular Diels-Alder reaction with high stereoselectivity and substrate specificity. X-ray crystallography confirms that the structure matches the design for the most active of the enzymes, and binding site substitutions reprogram the substrate specificity. Designed stereoselective catalysts for carbon-carbon bond-forming reactions should be broadly useful in synthetic chemistry.


The de novo design of catalysts for specific purposes remains an inspired goal for chemists and biochemists. Ken Houk and David Baker have been pursuing this goal, and their recent paper on the design of a catalyst for the bimolecular Diels-Alder1 is a real...
Let’s wrap things up with the final three Chemmy Awards for 2010. Keep in mind, these awards are subjective as hell. Imagine if the Nobel committee actually adhered to Nobel’s will and awarded the prize for thegreatest achievements”during[just]...
One of the great challenges to computational chemistry and computational biochemistry is rational design of enzymes. Baker and Houk have been pursuing this goal and in their recent paper they report progress towards an enzyme designed to catalyze a Diels-Alder...