Chiral NH-controlled supramolecular metallacycles

Jinqiao Dong, Chunxia Tan, Kang Zhang, Yan Liu, Paul J. Low, Jianwen Jiang, Yong Cui

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

91 Citations (Web of Science)


Chiral NH functionalities-based discrimination is a key feature of Nature's chemical armory, yet selective binding of biologically active molecules in synthetic systems with high enantioselectivity poses significant challenges. Here we report the assembly of three chiral fluorescent Zn6L6 metallacycles from pyridyl-functionalized Zn(salalen) or Zn(salen) complexes. Each of these metallacycles has a nanoscale hydrophobic cavity decorated with six, three, or zero chiral NH functionalities and packs into a three-dimensional supramolecular porous framework. The binding affinity and enantioselectivity of the metallacycles toward α-hydroxycarboxylic acids, amino acids, small molecule pharamaceuticals (L-dopa, D-penicillamine), and chiral amines increase with the number of chiral NH moieties in the cyclic structure. From single-crystal X-ray diffraction, molecular simulations, and quantum chemical calculations, the chiral recognition and discrimination are attributed to the specific binding of enantiomers in the chiral pockets of the metallacycles. The parent metallacycles are fluorescent with the intensity of emission being linearly related to the enantiomeric composition of the chiral biorelevant guests, which allow them to be utilized in chiral sensing. The fact that manipulation of chiral NH functionalities in metallacycles can control the enantiorecognition of biomolecular complexes would facilitate the design of more effective supramolecular assemblies for enantioselective processes. (Figure Presented).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1554-1564
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2017


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