Acid–Base Controllable Recognition Properties of a Highly Versatile Calix[6]crypturea

Laboratoire de Chimie Organique, Université Libre de Bruxelles (U.L.B.), Avenue F. D. Roosevelt 50, CP160/06, 1050 Brussels, Belgium.
Chemistry - A European Journal (Impact Factor: 5.73). 02/2010; 16(7):2159-69. DOI: 10.1002/chem.200902792
Source: PubMed


Versatile concave receptors with binding properties that can be controlled by external stimuli are rare. Herein, we report on a calix[6]crypturea (1) that features two different binding sites in close proximity, that is, a tris(2-aminoethyl)amine (tren)-based tris-ureido cap that provides convergent hydrogen-bond-donor sites and a hydrophobic cavity suitable for the inclusion of organic guests. The binding properties of this heteroditopic receptor have been evaluated by NMR spectroscopic studies. Compound 1 behaves as a remarkably versatile host that strongly binds neutral molecules, anions, or contact ion pairs. Within each family of guests, compound 1 is able to discriminate between different guests with a high degree of selectivity. Indeed, neutral molecules that possess hydrogen-bond donor and acceptor groups, chloride anions, and linear ammonium ions associated to F(-) or Cl(-) are particularly well recognized. In comparison with all the related receptors, compound 1 displays several unique features: 1) charged or neutral species are also recognized in polar or protic solvents, 2) thanks to the flexibility of the calixarene structure, induced-fit processes allow the binding of large, biologically relevant ammonium salts such as neurotransmitters, and 3) the protonation of the basic cap leads to a positively charged receptor, 1.H(+), which is reluctant to host anions and in which host properties are now governed by strong charge-dipole interactions with the guests. In other words, compound 1 presents an acid-base controllable tris-ureido recognition site protected by a hydrophobic corridor that can select guests through induced-fit processes. Thus, its versatile host properties can be allosterically controlled by protonation and selective guest-switching processes are possible. To illustrate all these remarkable features, a sophisticated three-pole supramolecular switch, based on the interconversion of host-guest systems displaying either charged or neutral guests, is described.

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