PerspectiveSynthetic Foldamers

Light flips a membrane-embedded helix

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Science  29 Apr 2016:
Vol. 352, Issue 6285, pp. 520
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf6191

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Signaling proteins embedded in cell membranes can transmit information from one side to another, usually by a conformational change within a bundle of transmembrane helices. The challenge of mimicking these proteins with smaller molecules has been picked up by synthetic chemists. On page 575 of this issue, De Poli et al. (1) show that a conformational change in a helical foldamer not only can be elicited by irradiation with light, it can also be allosterically transmitted within a membrane over a distance of up to 2 nm.