John Nobili, S.J. Professor
Santa Clara University
Santa Clara, CA
Using Peptoids for Molecular Recognition in Water
New methods for the detection of small organic molecules in water will aid in the development of sensing and sequestration strategies for medical or environmental applications. We have initiated research aimed at understanding interactions between small organic molecules and water-soluble peptoids, N-substituted glycine oligomers.
Peptoids are an attractive peptidomimetic scaffold for this application; their sequence-specific preparation is straightforward and accommodates the synthesis of a wide diversity of analogs, including those that exhibit stable structural features in aqueous solution. We have reported peptoids with putative amphiphilic helix structures that self-assemble in aqueous buffer.
Recently, we reported that their self-association allows our water-soluble peptoids to form a supramolecular host for organic small molecules. New results to be presented here will demonstrate that peptoids with modulated self-association constitute a suite of supramolecular hosts that are able to detect and differentiate small molecules. This is a promising new application for peptoids, and an exciting new approach to the detection of small molecules in aqueous media.