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The transduction of biological signals depends on the spatial communication of conformational change. We report a synthetic mimic of this signal transduction process in which non-covalent binding induces a change in the position of equilibrium between two rapidly interconverting screw-sense conformers of a synthetic helical polyamide. Selectivity was achieved by incorporating at the N-terminus of the polyamide a urea-based anion recognition site capable of binding chiral phosphate anions. As a result of solvent-dependent binding, an induced conformational change propagates from the binding site through the amide chain, leading to a screw-sense preference detectable in the form of a chemical shift separation between two NMR active 13C labels. The remote induction of screw sense preference indicates successful communication of a signal originating solely from non-covalent binding.
28/02/14 → 29/11/17