Host-guest interactions between the periphery of adamantylurea-functionalized dendrimers (host) and ureido acetic acid derivatives (guest) were shown to be specific, strong and spatially well-defined. The binding becomes stronger when using phosphonic or sulfonic acid derivatives. In the present work we have quantified the binding constants for the host-guest interactions between two different host motifs and six different guest molecules. The host molecules, which resemble the periphery of a poly(propylene imine) dendrimer, have been fitted with an anthracene-based fluorescent probe. The two host motifs differ in terms of the length of the spacer between a tertiary amine and two ureido functionalities. The guest molecules all contain an acidic moiety (either a carboxylic acid, a phosphonic acid, or a sulfonic acid) and three of them also contain an ureido moiety capable of forming multiple hydrogen bonds to the hosts. The binding constants for all 12 host-guest complexes have been determined by using fluorescence titrations by monitoring the increase in fluorescence of the host upon protonation by the addition of the guest. The binding constants could be tuned by changing the design of the acidic part of the guest. The formation of hydrogen bonds gives, in all cases, higher association constants, demonstrating that the host is more than a proton sensor. The host with the longer spacer (propyl) shows higher association constants than the host with the shorter spacer (ethyl). The gain in association constants are higher when the urea function is added to the guests for the host with the longer spacer, indicating a better fit. Collision-induced dissociation mass spectrometry (CID-MS) is used to study the stability of the six motifs using the corresponding third generation dendrimer. A similar trend is found when the six different guests are compared.
Chemistry: a European Journal, 2005, Vol 11, Issue 17, p. 5126-5135