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  1. Abstract

    Molecular recognition in water is an important challenge in supramolecular chemistry. Surface‐core double cross‐linking of template‐containing surfactant micelles by the click reaction and free radical polymerization yields molecularly imprinted nanoparticles (MINPs) with guest‐complementary binding sites. An important property of MINP‐based receptors is the surface‐cross‐linking between the propargyl groups of the surfactants and a diazide cross‐linker. Decreasing the number of carbons in between the two azides enhanced the binding affinity of the MINPs, possibly by keeping the imprinted binding site more open prior to the guest binding. The depth of the binding pocket can be controlled by the distribution of the hydrophilic/hydrophobic groups of the template and was found to influence the binding in addition to electrostatic interactions between oppositely charged MINPs and guests. Cross‐linkers with an alkoxyamine group enabled two‐stage double surface‐cross‐linking that strengthened the binding constants by an order of magnitude, possibly by expanding the binding pocket of the MINP into the polar region. The binding selectivity among very similar isomeric structures also improved.

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  2. null (Ed.)
    Glycosidases are an important class of enzymes for performing the selective hydrolysis of glycans. Although glycans can be hydrolyzed in principle by acidic water, hydrolysis with high selectivity using nonenzymatic catalysts is an unachieved goal. Molecular imprinting in cross-linked micelles afforded water-soluble polymeric nanoparticles with a sugar-binding boroxole in the imprinted site. Post-modification installed an acidic group near the oxygen of the targeted glycosidic bond, with the acidity and distance of the acid varied systematically. The resulting synthetic glycosidase hydrolyzed oligosaccharides and polysaccharides in a highly controlled fashion simply in hot water. These catalysts not only broke down amylose with similar selectivities to those of natural enzymes, but they also could be designed to possess selectivity not available with biocatalysts. Substrate selectivity was mainly determined by the sugar residues bound within the active site, including their spatial orientations. Separation of the product was accomplished through in situ dialysis, and the catalysts left behind could be used multiple times with no signs of degradation. This work illustrates a general method to construct synthetic glycosidases from readily available building blocks via self-assembly, covalent capture, and post-modification. In addition, controlled, precise, one-step hydrolysis is an attractive way to prepare complex glycans from naturally available carbohydrate sources. 
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  3. Conformational flexibility in the host's structure is often considered detrimental to its binding. Flexible pseudo-crown ethers with aromatic donor/acceptor groups at the chain ends, however, displayed enhanced binding affinity and selectivity, particularly when the direct binding interactions were compromised by unfavorable solvents. 
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