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J Am Chem Soc. 2013 Nov 20;135(46):17488-93. doi: 10.1021/ja408788t. Epub 2013 Nov 6.

Selective chromium(VI) ligands identified using combinatorial peptoid libraries.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry, University of California , 724 Latimer Hall, Berkeley, California 94720, United States.


Hexavalent chromium [Cr(VI)] is a worldwide water contaminant that is currently without cost-effective and efficient remediation strategies. This is in part due to a lack of ligands that can bind it amid an excess of innocuous ions in aqueous solution. We present herein the design and application of a peptoid-based library of ligand candidates for toxic metal ions. A selective screening process was used to identify members of the library that can bind to Cr(VI) species at neutral pH and in the presence of a large excess of spectator ions. There were 11 sequences identified, and their affinities were compared using titrations monitored with UV-vis spectroscopy. To identify the interactions involved in coordination and specificity, we evaluated the effects of sequence substitutions and backbone variation in the highest affinity structure. Additional characterization of the complex formed between this sequence and Cr(VI) was performed using NMR spectroscopy. To evaluate the ability of the developed sequences to remediate contaminated solutions, the structures were synthesized on a solid-phase resin and incubated with environmental water samples that contained simulated levels of chromium contamination. The synthetic structures demonstrated the ability to reduce the amount of toxic chromium to levels within the range of the EPA contamination guidelines. In addition to providing some of the first selective ligands for Cr(VI), these studies highlight the promise of peptoid sequences as easily prepared components of environmental remediation materials.

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