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  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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.