Supramolecular Chemistry: Receptors, Catalysts, and Carriers

Science  22 Feb 1985:
Vol. 227, Issue 4689, pp. 849-856
DOI: 10.1126/science.227.4689.849


Supramolecular chemistry is the study of the structures and functions of the supermolecules that result from binding substrates to molecular receptors. Macropolycyclic receptors and coreceptors have been designed that form cryptate inclusion complexes and display molecular recognition towards spherical, tetrahedral, and linear substrates of various kinds (metal cations, inorganic anions, and organic or biological cations or anions). Anion binding has led to the development of anion coordination chemistry. Metalloreceptors simultaneously bind organic molecules and metal ions; speleands combine polar and nonpolar binding subunits. Receptors bearing reactive functional groups may act as molecular reagents or catalysts, performing a chemical transformation on the bound substrates (by such reactions as hydrogen transfer, ester cleavage, and protoadenosinetriphosphatase and protokinase activities). Receptors fitted with lipophilic groups can operate as molecular carriers, translocating bound species through a membrane; this transport can be coupled to chemical potentials (proton and redox gradients).