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Acyclic Congener of Cucurbituril:  Synthesis and Recognition Properties

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journal contribution
posted on 08.07.2003, 00:00 by Christopher A. Burnett, Dariusz Witt, James C. Fettinger, Lyle Isaacs
The cucurbit[n]uril (CB[n]) family of macrocycles occupies a prominent role in molecular recognition and self-assembly studies despite the current inability to access specific cucurbit[n]uril homologues, derivatives, and analogues by straightforward tailor-made synthetic procedures. In this paper, we explore an approach that circumvents the challenges posed by the tailor-made synthesis of macrocyclic CB[n] by preparing 1, which functions as an acyclic CB[6] congener. The o-xylylene connections to the glycoluril rings preorganize 1 into the (a,a,a,a)-1 conformation required for binding and reduce its tendency to undergo self-association. We surveyed the binding properties of 1 toward 16 amines (Ka ≤ 1.52 × 104 M-1) and diol, diacid, guanidinium, and pyridinium species in pD 7.4 phosphate-buffered D2O. We find that the recognition properties of 1 parallel those of CB[6], binding tightly to alkaneammonium species in water and exhibiting length-dependent selectivity and competitive binding with alkali metals present in solution. Compound 1 binds hexanediammonium ion only 180-fold less tightly than CB[6]. The modular synthesis of 1 suggests synthetic methods toward the preparation of acyclic CB[n] congeners with complex functional groups on the edges of their aromatic rings and cavity volumes similar to CB[7] and CB[8]. In combination, these results suggest that acyclic CB[n] congeners hold promise in molecular recognition and self-assembly studies that complements that of macrocyclic CB[n].