Reverse Turn and Loop Secondary Structures in Stereodefined Cyclic Peptoid Scaffolds

Controlling the network of intramolecular interactions encoded by Nα-chiral side chains and the equilibria between cis- and trans-amide junctions in cyclic peptoid architectures constitutes a significant challenge for the construction of stable reverse turn and loop structures. In this contribution, we reveal, with the support of NMR spectroscopy, single-crystal X-ray crystallography and density functional theory calculations, the relevant noncovalent interactions stabilizing tri-, tetra-, hexa-, and octameric cyclic peptoids (as free hosts and host–guest complexes) with strategically positioned N-(S)-(1-phenylethyl)/N-benzyl side chains, and how these interactions influence the backbone topological order. With the help of theoretical models and spectroscopic/diffractometric studies, we disclose new γ-/β-turn and loop structures present in α-peptoid-based macrocycles and classify them according ϕ, ψ, and ω torsion angles. In our endeavor to characterize emergent secondary structures, we solved the solid-state structure of the largest metallated cyclic peptoid ever reported, characterized by an unprecedented alternated cis/trans amide bond linkage. Overall, our results indicate that molecules endowed with different elements of asymmetry (central and conformational) provide new architectural elements of facile atroposelective construction and broad conformational stability as the minimalist scaffold for novel stereodefined peptidomimetic foldamers and topologically biased libraries necessary for future application of peptoids in all fields of science.