Light-Triggered Conformational Switches for Modulation of Molecular Recognition : Applications for Peptidomimetics and Supramolecular Systems

Abstract: The main focus of this thesis is on photochemical modulation of molecular recognition in various host-guest systems. This involves the design, synthesis and integration of light-triggered conformational switches into peptidomimetic guests and molecular tweezer hosts. The impact of the switches on guest and host structures has been assessed by spectroscopic and computational conformational analysis. Effects of photochemical structure modulation on molecular recognition in protein-ligand and supramolecular host-guest systems are discussed.Phototriggerable peptidomimetic inhibitors of the enzyme M. tuberculosis ribonucleotide reductase (RNR) were obtained by incorporation of a stilbene based amino acid moiety into oligopeptides between 3-9 residues long (Paper I). Interstrand hydrogen bond probability in the E and Z forms of the peptidomimetics was used as a tool for predicting conformational preferences. Considerable differences in inhibitory potency for the E and Z photoisomers were demonstrated in a binding assay.In order to advance the concept of photomodulable inhibitors, synthetic routes towards amino acid derivatives based on the more rigid stiff-stilbene chromophore were developed (Paper II).  The effect of E-Z isomerization on the conformational properties of peptidomimetic inhibitors incorporating the stiff-stilbene chromophore was also assessed computationally (Paper III). It was indicated that inhibitors with the more rigid amino acid derivative should display larger conformational divergence between photoisomers than corresponding stilbene derivatives.Bisporphyrin tweezers with enediyne and stiff-stilbene spacers have been synthesized, and the conformational characteristics imposed by the spacers have been studied and compared to a glycoluril linked tweezer. The effects of spacers on tweezer binding of diamine guests and helicity induction by chiral guests have been investigated (Paper IV). Connections between spacer flexibility and host-guest binding strength have been established. The structural properties of the stiff-stilbene spaced tweezer made it particularly susceptible to helicity induction by both monotopic and bitopic chiral guests. Finally, the possibility of photochemical bite-size variation of tweezers with photoswitchable spacers has been assessed. Initial studies have shown that photoisomerization of the tweezers is possible without photochemical decomposition. Conformational analyses indicate that isomerization should impact binding characteristics of the tweezers to a significant extent (Paper V).