A speedy marriage in supramolecular catalysis

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Science  04 Dec 2015:
Vol. 350, Issue 6265, pp. 1165-1166
DOI: 10.1126/science.aad7245

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Enzymes catalyze a wide range of slow biological reactions by crafting their local environments to accommodate and interact with reactants (1). Chemists aiming to design synthetic systems with enzyme-like activity have previously introduced conventional catalysts directly into an enzyme pocket to facilitate reactions of interest (2). On page 1235 of this issue, Kaphan et al. (3) use a related strategy to speed up an alkyl-alkyl cross-coupling reaction that is prohibitively slow on its own (4). However, instead of a natural enzyme, the authors use a synthetic cocatalyst that forms a cage around their organometallic catalysts. The synthetic enhances the rate of a key step of the reaction, reductive elimination, by at least a factor of seven.