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Universal Relationship between Molecular Structure and Crystal Structure in Peptoid Polymers and Prevalence of the cis Backbone Conformation.

  • Author(s): Greer, Douglas R
  • Stolberg, Michael A
  • Kundu, Joyjit
  • Spencer, Ryan K
  • Pascal, Tod
  • Prendergast, David
  • Balsara, Nitash P
  • Zuckermann, Ronald N
  • et al.

Peptoid polymers are often crystalline in the solid-state as examined by X-ray scattering, but thus far, there has been no attempt to identify a common structural motif among them. In order to probe the relationship between molecular structure and crystal structure, we synthesized and analyzed a series of crystalline peptoid copolymers, systematically varying peptoid side-chain length (S) and main-chain length (N). We also examined X-ray scattering data from 18 previously reported peptoid polymers. In all peptoids, we found that the unit cell dimensions, a, b, and c, are simple functions of S and N: a (Å) = 4.55, b (Å) = [2.98]N + 0.35, and c (Å) = [1.86]S + 5.5. These relationships, which apply to both bulk crystals and self-assembled nanosheets in water, indicate that the molecules adopt extended, planar conformations. Furthermore, we performed molecular dynamics simulations (MD) of peptoid polymer lattices, which indicate that all backbone amides adopt the cis conformation. This is a surprising conclusion, because previous studies on isolated molecules indicated an energetic preference for the trans conformer. This study demonstrates that when packed into supramolecular lattices or crystals, peptoid polymers prefer to adopt a regular, extended, all-cis secondary structure.

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