Scientific article
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Synthetic Ion Transporters that Work with Anion−π Interactions, Halogen Bonds, and Anion–Macrodipole Interactions

Published inAccounts of chemical research, vol. 46, no. 12, p. 2791-2800
Publication date2013

The transport of ions and molecules across lipid bilayer membranes connects cells and cellular compartments with their environment. This biological process is central to a host of functions including signal transduction in neurons and the olfactory and gustatory sensing systems, the translocation of biosynthetic intermediates and products, and the uptake of nutrients, drugs, and probes. Biological transport systems are highly regulated and selectively respond to a broad range of physical and chemical stimulation. A large percentage of today's drugs and many antimicrobial or antifungal agents take advantage of these systems. Other biological transport systems are highly toxic, such as the anthrax toxin or melittin from bee venom. For more than three decades, organic and supramolecular chemists have been interested in developing new transport systems. Over time, curiosity about the basic design has evolved toward developing of responsive systems with applications in materials sciences and medicine. Our early contributions to this field focused on the introduction of new structural motifs with emphasis on rigid-rod scaffolds, artificial β-barrels, or π-stacks. Using these scaffolds, we have constructed selective systems that respond to voltage, pH, ligands, inhibitors, or light (multifunctional photosystems). We have described sensing applications that cover the three primary principles of sensor development: immunosensors that use aptamers, biosensors (an “artificial” tongue), and differential sensors (an “artificial” nose). In this Account, we focus on our recent interest in applying synthetic transport systems as analytical tools to identify the functional relevance of less common noncovalent interactions, anion−π interactions, halogen bonds, and anion–macrodipole interactions. Anion−π interactions, the poorly explored counterpart of cation−π interactions, occur in aromatic systems with a positive quadrupole moment, such as TNT or hexafluorobenzene. To observe these elusive interactions in action, we synthesized naphthalenediimide transporters of increasing π-acidity up to an unprecedented quadrupole moment of +39 Buckinghams and characterized these systems in comparison with tandem mass spectrometry and computational simulations. With π-acidic calixarenes and calixpyrroles, we have validated our results on anion−π interactions and initiated our studies of halogen bonds. Halogen bonds originate from the σ-hole that appears on top of electron-deficient iodines, bromines, and chlorines. Halogen-bond donors are ideal for anion transport because they are as strong and at least as directional as hydrogen-bond donors, but also hydrophobic. The discovery of the smallest possible organic anion transporter, trifluoroiodomethane, illustrates the power of halogen-bond donors. This molecule contains a single carbon atom and is a gas with a boiling point of −22 °C. Anion–macrodipole interactions, finally, differ significantly from anion−π interactions and halogen bonds because they are important in nature and cannot be studied with small molecules. We have used anion-transporting peptide/urea nanotubes to examine these interactions in synthetic transport systems. To facilitate the understanding of the described results, we also include an in-depth discussion of the meaning of Hill coefficients. The use of synthetic transport systems to catch less common noncovalent interactions at work is important because it helps to expand the collection of interactions available to create functional systems. Progress in this direction furthers fundamental knowledge and invites many different applications. For illustration, we briefly discuss how this knowledge could apply to the development of new catalysts.

Citation (ISO format)
VARGAS JENTZSCH, Rodrigo Andreas et al. Synthetic Ion Transporters that Work with Anion−π Interactions, Halogen Bonds, and Anion–Macrodipole Interactions. In: Accounts of chemical research, 2013, vol. 46, n° 12, p. 2791–2800. doi: 10.1021/ar400014r
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Article (Published version)
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ISSN of the journal0001-4842

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