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  1. Abstract Intimately connected to the rule of life, chirality remains a long-time fascination in biology, chemistry, physics and materials science. Chiral structures, e.g., nucleic acid and cholesteric phase developed from chiral molecules are common in nature and synthetic soft materials. While it was recently discovered that achiral but bent-core mesogens can also form chiral helices, the assembly of chiral microstructures from achiral polymers has rarely been explored. Here, we reveal chiral emergence from achiral conjugated polymers, in which hierarchical helical structures are developed through a multistep assembly pathway. Upon increasing concentration beyond a threshold volume fraction, dispersed polymer nanofibers form lyotropic liquid crystalline (LC) mesophases with complex, chiral morphologies. Combining imaging, X-ray and spectroscopy techniques with molecular simulations, we demonstrate that this structural evolution arises from torsional polymer molecules which induce multiscale helical assembly, progressing from nano- to micron scale helical structures as the solution concentration increases. This study unveils a previously unknown complex state of matter for conjugated polymers that can pave way to a field of chiral (opto)electronics. We anticipate that hierarchical chiral helical structures can profoundly impact how conjugated polymers interact with light, transport charges, and transduce signals from biomolecular interactions and even give rise to propertiesmore »unimagined before.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2023
  2. Sugar translocation between cells and between subcellular compartments in plants requires either plasmodesmata or a diverse array of sugar transporters. Interactions between plants and associated microorganisms also depend on sugar transporters. The sugars will eventually be exported transporter (SWEET) family is made up of conserved and essential transporters involved in many critical biological processes. The functional significance and small size of these proteins have motivated crystallographers to successfully capture several structures of SWEETs and their bacterial homologs in different conformations. These studies together with molecular dynamics simulations have provided unprecedented insights into sugar transport mechanisms in general and into substrate recognition of glucose and sucrose in particular. This review summarizes our current understanding of the SWEET family, from the atomic to the whole-plant level. We cover methods used for their characterization, theories about their evolutionary origins, biochemical properties, physiological functions, and regulation. We also include perspectives on the future work needed to translate basic research into higher crop yields.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 20, 2023
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  4. Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 1, 2023