Selective Recognition of Amino Acids and Peptides by Small Supramolecular Receptors

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To this day, the recognition and high affinity binding of biomolecules in water by synthetic receptors remains challenging, while the necessity for systems for their sensing, transport and modulation persists. This problematic is prevalent for the recognition of peptides, which not only have key roles in many biochemical pathways, as well as having pharmacological and biotechnological applications, but also frequently serve as models for the study of proteins. Taking inspiration in nature and on the interactions that occur between several receptors and peptide sequences, many researchers have developed and applied a variety of different synthetic receptors, as is the case of macrocyclic compounds, molecular imprinted polymers, organometallic cages, among others, to bind amino acids, small peptides and proteins. In this critical review, we present and discuss selected examples of synthetic receptors for amino acids and peptides, with a greater focus on supramolecular receptors, which show great promise for the selective recognition of these biomolecules in physiological conditions. We decided to focus preferentially on small synthetic receptors (leaving out of this review high molecular weight polymeric systems) for which more detailed and accurate molecular level information regarding the main structural and thermodynamic features of the receptor biomolecule assemblies is available.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2021


  • amino acids
  • host-guest systems
  • molecular recognition
  • peptides
  • supramolecular receptors


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