The non-covalent assembly of macromolecules from smaller subunits is an extremely desirable technology.1 Access to precisely-designed supramolecular architectures could lead to many applications in areas such as supramolecular catalysis and synthetic biology.
Current approaches to molecular self assembly are mainly targeted towards non-covalent polymerization, or non-directional interactions. We are challenging this field through the design of molecular recognition motifs which not only are non-self complementary (i.e. recognise and bind to only their selected binding partner – not to themselves), but also display directional control (i.e. we can orient sidechains in a defined manner). In aiming to design motifs that will bind fairly strongly to one another, we also intend to use four hydrogen bonds per binding pair – completely synthetic systems of this type are also somewhat unusual.
Our approach is centered on a staggered arrangement of two heteroatomatic rings (for example, the bis-aminopyridine unit shown below represents a DAAD array). Directionality is specified through this staggering, and furthermore the motif is non-self complementary. The design of an appropriate ADDA binding partner should therefore fulfill our project aims. We are working on a library of 4 binding partners at present, which should be sufficient to initiate controlled macromolecular synthesis!
- This work is supported by the Oxford University Life Sciences Interface Doctoral Training Centre (Studentship to Jem Pearson).
- L. J. Prins, D. N. Reinhoudt and P. Timmerman, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2001, 40, 2382; A. J. Wilson, Soft Matter 2007, 3, 409.