Solvophobically Driven Folding of Nonbiological Oligomers

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Science  19 Sep 1997:
Vol. 277, Issue 5333, pp. 1793-1796
DOI: 10.1126/science.277.5333.1793

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In solution, biopolymers commonly fold into well-defined three-dimensional structures, but only recently has analogous behavior been explored in synthetic chain molecules. An aromatic hydrocarbon backbone is described that spontaneously acquires a stable helical conformation having a large cavity. The chain does not form intramolecular hydrogen bonds, and solvophobic interactions drive the folding transition, which is sensitive to chain length, solvent quality, and temperature.

  • * Present address: Glaxo Wellcome, Five Moore Drive, Post Office Box 13398, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709, USA.

  • Present address: Department of Chemistry, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.

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