Folded biomimetic oligomers for enantioselective catalysis

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Many naturally occurring biopolymers (i.e., proteins, RNA, DNA) owe their unique properties to their well-defined three-dimensional structures. These attributes have inspired the design and synthesis of folded architectures with functions ranging from molecular recognition to asymmetric catalysis. Among these are synthetic oligomeric peptide ("foldamer") mimics, which can display conformational ordering at short chain lengths. Foldamers, however, have not been explored as platforms for asymmetric catalysis. This report describes a library of synthetic helical "peptoid" oligomers that enable enantioselective transformations at an embedded achiral catalytic center, as illustrated by the oxidative kinetic resolution of 1-phenylethanol. In an investigation aimed at elucidating key structure-function relationships, we have discovered that the enantioselectivity of the catalytic peptoids depends on the handedness of the asymmetric environment derived from the helical scaffold, the position of the catalytic center along the peptoid backbone, and the degree of conformational ordering of the peptoid scaffold. The transfer of chiral information from a folded scaffold can enable the use of a diverse assortment of embedded achiral catalytic centers, promising a generation of synthetic foldamer catalysts for enantioselective transformations that can be performed under a broad range of reaction environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13679-13684
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number33
StatePublished - Aug 18 2009


  • Catalyst
  • Foldamer
  • Oxidative kinetic resolution
  • Peptoid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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