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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 5, 2023
  2. Self-assembled Fe4 L 6 cage complexes with variable internal functions can be synthesized from a 2,7-dibromocarbazole ligand scaffold, which orients six functional groups to the cage interior. Both ethylthiomethylether and ethyldimethylamino groups can be incorporated. The cages show strong ligand-centered fluorescence emission and a broad range of guest binding properties. Coencapsulation of neutral organic guests is favored in the larger, unfunctionalized cage cavity, whereas the thioether cage has a more sterically hindered cavity that favors 1 : 1 guest binding. Binding affinities up to 10 6 M −1 in CH3 CN are seen. The dimethylamino cage is more complex, as the internal amines display partial protonation and can be deprotonated by amine bases. This amine cage displays affinity for a broad range of neutral organic substrates, with affinities and stoichiometries comparable to that of the similarly sized thioether cage. These species show that simple variations in ligand backbone allow variations in the number and type of functions that can be displayed towards the cavity of self-assembled hosts, which will have applications in biomimetic sensing, catalysis and molecular recognition.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 1, 2023
  3. Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 1, 2023
  4. An arrayed combination of water-soluble deep cavitands and cationic dyes has been shown to optically sense insect pheromones at micromolar concentration in water. Machine learning approaches were used to optimize the most effective array components, which allows differentiation between small structural differences in targets, including between different diastereomers, even though the pheromones have no innate chromophore. When combined with chiral additives, enantiodiscrimination is possible, dependent on the size and shape of the pheromone.
  5. NMR-assisted crystallography—the integrated application of solid-state NMR, X-ray crystallography, and first-principles computational chemistry—holds significant promise for mechanistic enzymology: by providing atomic-resolution characterization of stable intermediates in enzyme active sites, including hydrogen atom locations and tautomeric equilibria, NMR crystallography offers insight into both structure and chemical dynamics. Here, this integrated approach is used to characterize the tryptophan synthase α-aminoacrylate intermediate, a defining species for pyridoxal-5′-phosphate–dependent enzymes that catalyze β-elimination and replacement reactions. For this intermediate, NMR-assisted crystallography is able to identify the protonation states of the ionizable sites on the cofactor, substrate, and catalytic side chains as well as the location and orientation of crystallographic waters within the active site. Most notable is the water molecule immediately adjacent to the substrate β-carbon, which serves as a hydrogen bond donor to the ε-amino group of the acid–base catalytic residue βLys87. From this analysis, a detailed three-dimensional picture of structure and reactivity emerges, highlighting the fate of the L-serine hydroxyl leaving group and the reaction pathway back to the preceding transition state. Reaction of the α-aminoacrylate intermediate with benzimidazole, an isostere of the natural substrate indole, shows benzimidazole bound in the active site and poised for, but unable to initiate, the subsequent bondmore »formation step. When modeled into the benzimidazole position, indole is positioned with C3 in contact with the α-aminoacrylate C β and aligned for nucleophilic attack. Here, the chemically detailed, three-dimensional structure from NMR-assisted crystallography is key to understanding why benzimidazole does not react, while indole does.« less
  6. A spacious Fe( ii )-iminopyridine self-assembled cage complex can catalyze the oxidative dimerization of alkanethiols, with air as stoichiometric oxidant. The reaction is aided by selective molecular recognition of the reactants, and the active catalyst is derived from the Fe( ii ) centers that provide the structural vertices of the host. The host is even capable of size-selective oxidation and can discriminate between alkanethiols of identical reactivity, based solely on size.
  7. This Account describes our efforts over the last decade to synthesize self-assembled metal–ligand cage complexes that display reactive functional groups on their interiors. This journey has taken us down a variety of research avenues, including studying the mechanism of reversible self-assembly, analyzing ligand self-sorting properties, post-assembly reactivity, molecular recognition, and binding studies, and finally reactivity and catalysis. Each of these individual topics are discussed here, as are the lessons learned along the way and the future research outlook. These self-assembled hosts are the closest mimics of enzymes to date, as they are capable of size- and shape-selective molecular recognition, substrate activation and turnover, as well as showing less common ‘biomimetic’ properties such as the ability to employ cofactors in reactivity, and alter the prevailing mechanism of the catalyzed reactions. 1 Introduction 2 Paddlewheels and Self-Sorting Behavior 3 First-Row Transition-Metal-Mediated Assembly: Sorting and Stereochemical Control 4 Post-Assembly Reactivity 5 Molecular Recognition and Catalysis 6 Conclusions and Outlook