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Cooperative duplex formation by synthetic H-bonding oligomers.

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Stross, Alexander E 
Hunter, Christopher A 


A series of flexible oligomers equipped with phenol H-bond donors and phosphine oxide H-bond acceptors have been synthesised using reductive amination chemistry. H-bonding interactions between complementary oligomers leads to the formation of double-stranded complexes which were characterised using NMR titrations and thermal denaturation experiments. The stability of the duplex increases by one order of magnitude for every H-bonding group added to the chain. Similarly, the enthalpy change for duplex assembly and the melting temperature for duplex denaturation both increase with increasing chain length. These observations indicate that H-bond formation along the oligomers is cooperative despite the flexible backbone, and the effective molarity for intramolecular H-bond formation (14 mM) is sufficient to propagate the formation of longer duplexes using this approach. The product K EM, which is used to quantify chelate cooperativity is 5, which means that each H-bond is more than 80% populated in the assembled duplex. The modular design of these oligomers represents a general strategy for the design of synthetic information molecules that could potentially encode and replicate chemical information in the same way as nucleic acids.



0306 Physical Chemistry (incl. Structural)

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Chem Sci

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Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC)
We thank the EPSRC and ERC for funding.