Albany 2013: Book of Abstracts
June 11-15 2013
©Adenine Press (2012)
Supramolecular Polymerization of Nucleobase-like Monomers in Water
Elucidating the physiochemical principles that govern molecular self-assembly is of great importance for understanding biological systems and may provide insight into the emergence of the earliest macromolecules of life, an important challenge facing the RNA World hypothesis. Self-assembly results from a delicate balance between multiple noncovalent interactions and solvent effects, but achieving efficient self-assembly in aqueous solution with synthetic molecules has proven particularly challenging. Here we demonstrate how two physical properties – monomer solubility and large hydrophobic surfaces of intermediate structures – are key elements to achieving supramolecular polymers in aqueous solution (Cafferty et al., 2013). Applying these two principles, we report the highly cooperative self-assembly of two weakly interacting, low molecular weight monomers [cyanuric acid (CA) and a modified triaminopyrimidine (TAPAS)] into a water-soluble supramolecular assembly (see scheme below). The observed equilibrium between only two appreciably populated states – free monomers and supramolecular assemblies – is in excellent agreement with values previously determined for the free energy of hydrogen bonding (Klostermeier & Millar, 2002), π-π stacking (Frier et al., 1985) and the calculated free energy penalty for the solvation of hydrophobic structures in water (Chandler 2005). The similarity of the molecules used in this study to the nucleobases found in contemporary nucleic acids and the demonstration that these monomer assemble while the natural nucleobases do not, suggests that the first informational polymers may have emerge from a similar self-assembly process if the nucleobases were different then they are today (Hud et al., 2013).
This research has been supported by NSF and the NASA Astrobiology Program under the NSF Center for Chemical Evolution [CHE-1004570], and Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientifíficas (CSIC) [MEC,SAB2010-0163].
Klostermeier D. &.Millar D. P. (2002). Biochemistry 41, 14095-102
Frier S. M. et al. (1985). Biochemistry 24, 4533-39
Chandler D. (2005). Nature 437, 640-7
Hud N. V. et al. (2013) Chemistry & Biology, Submitted.
1Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry