In this project funded by the Macromolecular, Supramolecular and Nanochemistry Program of the Chemistry Division, Kent Kirshenbaum of New York University will explore novel N-alkyl glycine oligomers, peptoids, with folding capabilities that engender unique three-dimensional structures and valuable functions. Peptoid oligomers will be synthesized to include a specific sequence of a large variety of N-substituted glycine monomer units, and a native chemical ligation strategy will be used to piece together peptoid oligomer fragments into complex sequences. Work will be performed in tandem with computational chemists in order to establish guidelines for folding peptoid macromolecules and peptide-peptoid hybrids into ordered tertiary structures. The long-term objective is to learn the rules that govern peptoid folding and to establish a predictable relationship between the sequence, the structure and the function of peptoid oligomers. The broader impacts will include training undergraduate and graduate students across the disciplines of synthetic organic chemistry, polymer chemistry, macromolecular science, and chemical biology. The project will also expand a highly successful NSF-supported science outreach effort at New York University, the Experimental Cuisine Collective. Presentations to the public will include discussing the roles of different macromolecules in diet and human health.
This research project will examine how to synthesize large molecular structures that mimic the sequence and three-dimensional structures of proteins. The development of such systems could address critical unmet needs in pharmacology and could provide new strategies for the discovery of enzyme-like catalysts. The science outreach activities will educate the public regarding the science of food and cooking, creating a venue for the discussion of chemistry principles and their influence in everyday phenomena.