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Sequence-Specific Peptide Synthesis by an Artificial Small-Molecule Machine

Science  11 Jan 2013:
Vol. 339, Issue 6116, pp. 189-193
DOI: 10.1126/science.1229753

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Abstract

The ribosome builds proteins by joining together amino acids in an order determined by messenger RNA. Here, we report on the design, synthesis, and operation of an artificial small-molecule machine that travels along a molecular strand, picking up amino acids that block its path, to synthesize a peptide in a sequence-specific manner. The chemical structure is based on a rotaxane, a molecular ring threaded onto a molecular axle. The ring carries a thiolate group that iteratively removes amino acids in order from the strand and transfers them to a peptide-elongation site through native chemical ligation. The synthesis is demonstrated with ~1018 molecular machines acting in parallel; this process generates milligram quantities of a peptide with a single sequence confirmed by tandem mass spectrometry.

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