Creating nanocavities of tunable sizes: Hollow helices

Bing Gong, Huaqiang Zeng, Jin Zhu, Lihua Yuan, Yaohua Han, Shizhi Cheng, Mako Furukawa, Rubén D. Parra, Andrey Y. Kovalevsky, Jeffrey L. Mills, Ewa Skrzypczak-Jankun, Suzana Martinovic, Richard D. Smith, Chong Zheng, Thomas Szyperski, Xiao Cheng Zeng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

146 Scopus citations


A general strategy for creating nanocavities with tunable sizes based on the folding of unnatural oligomers is presented. The backbones of these oligomers are rigidified by localized, three-center intramolecular hydrogen bonds, which lead to well-defined hollow helical conformations. Changing the curvature of the oligomer backbone leads to the adjustment of the interior cavity size. Helices with interior cavities of 10 Å to > 30 Å across, the largest thus far formed by the folding of unnatural foldamers, are generated. Cavities of these sizes are usually seen at the tertiary and quaternary structural levels of proteins. The ability to tune molecular dimensions without altering the underlying topology is seen in few natural and unnatural foldamer systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11583-11588
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number18
StatePublished - Sep 3 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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