Abiotic ligation of DNA oligomers templated by their liquid crystal ordering.
ABSTRACT: It has been observed that concentrated solutions of short DNA oligomers develop liquid crystal ordering as the result of a hierarchically structured supramolecular self-assembly. In mixtures of oligomers with various degree of complementarity, liquid crystal microdomains are formed via the selective aggregation of those oligomers that have a sufficient degree of duplexing and propensity for physical polymerization. Here we show that such domains act as fluid and permeable microreactors in which the order-stabilized molecular contacts between duplex terminals serve as physical templates for their chemical ligation. In the presence of abiotic condensing agents, liquid crystal ordering markedly enhances ligation efficacy, thereby enhancing its own phase stability. The coupling between order-templated ligation and selectivity provided by supramolecular ordering enables an autocatalytic cycle favouring the growth of DNA chains, up to biologically relevant lengths, from few-base long oligomers. This finding suggests a novel scenario for the abiotic origin of nucleic acids.
Project description:The study of supramolecular polymers in the bulk, in diluted solution, and at the solid-liquid interface has recently become a major topic of interest, going from fundamental aspects to applications in materials science. However, examples of supramolecular polymers at the liquid-liquid interface are mostly unexplored. Here, we describe the supramolecular polymerization of triarylamine molecules and their light-triggered organization at a chloroform-water interface. The resulting interfacial nematic layer of these 1D supramolecular polymers is further used as a template for the precise alignment of spherical gold nanoparticles coming from the water phase. These hybrid thin films are spontaneously formed in a single process, without chemical prefunctionalization of the metallic nanoparticles, and their ordering is improved by centrifugation. The resulting polymer chains and strings of nanoparticles can be co-aligned with high anisotropy over very large distances. By using a combination of experimental and theoretical investigations, we decipher the full sequence of this oriented self-assembly process. In such a highly anisotropic configuration, electron energy loss spectroscopy reveals that the self-assembled nanoparticles behave as plasmonic waveguides.
Project description:Discrete length block co-oligomers (BCOs) comprised of a crystalline and an amorphous block are a new class of materials that gives highly ordered lamellar morphologies at small length scales. Here, we show the preparation of discrete, isotactic oligo l- and d-lactic acid (olLA and odLA) homoblocks followed by ligation to oligodimethylsiloxane (oDMS), affording a library of crystalline-amorphous BCOs that vary in molecular weight and composition. Mixing the two enantiomeric BCOs or homoblocks results in the formation of the corresponding stereocomplex. The properties and phase behavior of the isotactic (block co)oligomers and the stereocomplexes thereof are studied using differential scanning calorimetry and small-angle X-ray scattering. A systematic study of the isotactic homoblock lengths and crystal structure confirmed the formation of a 103 helix with a monomeric rise of 0.3 nm, whereas the stereocomplex adopts a 31 helix. The same type of crystal structure was found for the isotactic and stereocomplex of BCOs giving rise to the formation of lamellar morphologies at room temperature as a result of crystallization of the oLA blocks. Distorted lamellar structures were found in BCOs that preorganize into nonlamellar morphologies prior to crystallization. The stereocomplex BCOs shows more crystal defects and a loss of long-range ordering in the microstructure due to the larger driving force for crystallization. Hence, the balance between chain length, block volume, and the crystallization strength are of major importance for the formation of the final structure with the least defects.
Project description:Catalytic microreactors manufactured using microfluidic devices have received significant research interest in recent years. However, little attention has been paid to immobilising metallic nanoparticles (NPs) onto microchannel walls for high efficiency catalytic reactions. We demonstrate a facile preparation of cucurbituril-based catalytic microreactors, where metallic NPs are immobilised onto microchannels via supramolecular complexation with methyl viologen@cucurbituril (CB). These microreactors exhibit a remarkable catalytic activity owing to the substantially high surface area to volume ratio of the microchannels and metallic NPs. Superior to most conventional heterogeneous catalytic reactions, separation post reaction and complicated recycling steps of the catalysts are not required. Moreover, CB can complex a variety of metallic NPs to its portal, providing a multifunctional high-performance in situ catalytic platform.
Project description:We have examined the orientational ordering of nematic liquid crystals (LCs) supported on organized monolayers of dipeptides with the goal of understanding how peptide-based interfaces encode intermolecular interactions that are amplified into supramolecular ordering. By characterizing the orientations of nematic LCs (4-cyano-4'-pentylbiphenyl and TL205 (a mixture of mesogens containing cyclohexane-fluorinated biphenyls and fluorinated terphenyls)) on monolayers of l-cysteine-l-tyrosine, l-cysteine-l-phenylalanine, or l-cysteine-l-phosphotyrosine formed on crystallographically textured films of gold, we conclude that patterns of hydrogen bonds generated by the organized monolayers of dipeptides are transduced via macroscopic orientational ordering of the LCs. This conclusion is supported by the observation that the ordering exhibited by the achiral LCs is specific to the enantiomers used to form the dipeptide-based monolayers. The dominant role of the -OH group of tyrosine in dictating the patterns of hydrogen bonds that orient the LCs was also evidenced by the effects of phosphorylation of the tyrosine on the ordering of the LCs. Overall, these results reveal that crystallographic texturing of gold films can direct the formation of monolayers of dipeptides with long-range order, thus unmasking the influence of hydrogen bonding, chirality, and phosphorylation on the macroscopic orientational ordering of LCs supported on these surfaces. These results suggest new approaches based on supramolecular assembly for reporting the chemical functionality and stereochemistry of synthetic and biological peptide-based molecules displayed at surfaces.
Project description:While common growth models assume a structure-less liquid composed of atomic flow units, structural ordering has been shown in liquid metals. Here, we conduct in situ transmission electron microscopy crystallization experiments on metallic glass nanorods, and show that structural ordering strongly affects crystal growth and is controlled by nanorod thermal history. Direct visualization reveals structural ordering as densely populated small clusters in a nanorod heated from the glass state, and similar behavior is found in molecular dynamics simulations of model metallic glasses. At the same growth temperature, the asymmetry in growth rate for rods that are heated versus cooled decreases with nanorod diameter and vanishes for very small rods. We hypothesize that structural ordering enhances crystal growth, in contrast to assumptions from common growth models. The asymmetric growth rate is attributed to the difference in the degree of the structural ordering, which is pronounced in the heated glass but sparse in the cooled liquid.
Project description:Polymer coatings with a combined competence of strong bonding to diverse substrates, broad liquid repellency, and readily damage healing are in substantial demand in a range of applications. In this work, we develop damage-healable, oil-repellent supramolecular silicone (DOSS) coatings to harvest abovementioned properties by molecular engineering siloxane oligomers that can self-assemble onto coated substrates via multivalent hydrogen bonding. In addition to the readily damage-healing properties provided by reversible association/dissociation of hydrogen bonding motifs, the unique molecular configuration of the siloxane oligomers on coated substrates enables both robust repellency to organic liquids and strong bonding to various substrates including metals, plastics, and even Teflon. We envision that not only DOSS coatings can be applied in a range of energy, environmental, and biomedical applications that require long-term services in harsh environmental conditions but also the design strategy of the oligomers can be adopted in the development of supramolecular materials with desirable multifunctionality.
Project description:The process of crystallization is often understood in terms of the fundamental microstructural elements of the crystallite being formed, such as surface orientation or the presence of defects. Considerably less is known about the role of the liquid structure on the kinetics of crystal growth. Here atomistic simulations and machine learning methods are employed together to demonstrate that the liquid adjacent to solid-liquid interfaces presents significant structural ordering, which effectively reduces the mobility of atoms and slows down the crystallization kinetics. Through detailed studies of silicon and copper we discover that the extent to which liquid mobility is affected by interface-induced ordering (IIO) varies greatly with the degree of ordering and nature of the adjacent interface. Physical mechanisms behind the IIO anisotropy are explained and it is demonstrated that incorporation of this effect on a physically-motivated crystal growth model enables the quantitative prediction of the growth rate temperature dependence.
Project description:Frustration of crystallisation by locally favoured structures is critically important in linking the phenomena of supercooling, glass formation, and liquid-liquid transitions. Here we show that the putative liquid-liquid transition in n-butanol is in fact caused by geometric frustration associated with an isotropic to rippled lamellar liquid-crystal transition. Liquid-crystal phases are generally regarded as being "in between" the liquid and the crystalline state. In contrast, the liquid-crystal phase in supercooled n-butanol is found to inhibit transformation to the crystal. The observed frustrated phase is a template for similar ordering in other liquids and likely to play an important role in supercooling and liquid-liquid transitions in many other molecular liquids.
Project description:An analysis of electron spin resonance (ESR) spectra from compositions along the liquid-ordered (L(o)) and liquid-disordered (L(d)) coexistence curve from the brain-sphingomyelin/dioleoylphosphatidylcholine/cholesterol (SPM/DOPC/Chol) model lipid system was performed to characterize the dynamic structure on a molecular level of these coexisting phases. We obtained 200 continuous-wave ESR spectra from glycerophospholipid spin-labels labeled at the 5, 7, 10, 12, 14, and 16 carbon positions of the 2nd acyl chain, a sphingomyelin spin-label labeled at the 14 carbon position of the amide-linked acyl chain, a headgroup-labeled glycerophospholipid, a headgroup-labeled sphingomyelin, and the cholesterol analogue spin-label cholestane all within multi-lamellar vesicle suspensions at room temperature. The spectra were analyzed using the MOMD (microscopic-order macroscopic-disorder) model to provide the rotational diffusion rates and order parameters which characterize the local molecular dynamics in these phases. The analysis also incorporated the known critical point and invariant points of the neighboring three-phase triangle along the coexistence curve. The variation in the molecular dynamic structures of coexisting L(o) and L(d) compositions as one moves toward the critical point is discussed. Based on these results, a molecular model of the L(o) phase is proposed incorporating the "condensing effect" of cholesterol on the phospholipid acyl chain dynamics and ordering and the “umbrella model” of the phospholipid headgroup dynamics and ordering.
Project description:The motivation of foldamer chemistry is to identify novel building blocks that have the potential to imitate natural species. Peptides and peptide mimetics can form stable helical conformations and further self-assemble into diverse aggregates in water, where it is difficult to isolate a single helix. In contrast, most "abiotic" foldamers may fold into helical structures in solution, but are difficult to assemble into tertiary ones. It remains a challenge to obtain "abiotic" species similar to peptides. In this paper, a novel foldamer scaffold, in which p-phenyleneethynylene units are linked by chiral carbon atoms, was designed and prepared. In very dilute solutions, these oligomers were random coils. The hexamer and octamers could form a hexagonal lyotropic liquid crystal (LC) in CH2Cl2 when the concentrations reached the critical values. The microscopic observations indicated that they could assemble into the nanofibers in the LC. Interestingly, after some LC phases were diluted at room temperature, the nanofibers could be preserved. The good stabilities of the assemblies are possibly attributed to a more compact backbone and more rigid side chains.