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A Discrete Three-Layer Stack Aggregate of a Linear Porphyrin Tetramer: Solution-Phase Structure Elucidation by NMR and X‑ray Scattering

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journal contribution
posted on 28.08.2013, 00:00 by Marie Hutin, Johannes K. Sprafke, Barbara Odell, Harry L. Anderson, Tim D. W. Claridge
Formation of stacked aggregates can dramatically alter the properties of aromatic π-systems, yet the solution-phase structure elucidation of these aggregates is often impossible because broad distributions of species are formed, giving uninformative spectroscopic data. Here, we show that a butadiyne-linked zinc porphyrin tetramer forms a remarkably well-defined aggregate, consisting of exactly three molecules, in a parallel stacked arrangement (in chloroform at room temperature; concentration 1 mM–0.1 μM). The aggregate has a mass of 14.7 kDa. Unlike most previously reported aggregates, it gives sharp NMR resonances and aggregation is in slow exchange on the NMR time scale. The structure was elucidated using a range of NMR techniques, including diffusion-editing, 1H–29Si HMBC, 1H–1H COSY, TOCSY and NOESY, and 1H–13C edited HSQC spectroscopy. Surprisingly, the 1H–1H COSY spectrum revealed many long-range residual dipolar couplings (RDCs), and detailed analysis of magnetic field-induced 1H–13C RDCs provided further evidence for the structural model. The size and shape of the aggregate is supported by small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) data. It adopts a geometry that maximizes van der Waals contact between the porphyrins, while avoiding clashes between side chains. The need for interdigitation of the side chains prevents formation of stacks consisting of more than three layers. Although a detailed analysis has only been carried out for one compound (the tetramer), comparison with the NMR spectra of other oligomers indicates that they form similar three-layer stacks. In all cases, aggregation can be prevented by addition of pyridine, although at low pyridine concentrations, disaggregation takes many hours to reach equilibrium.