Molecular Recognition of Vesicles: Host–Guest Interactions Combined with Specific Dimerization of Zwitterions



The aggregation of β-cyclodextrin vesicles can be induced by an adamantyl-substituted zwitterionic guanidiniocarbonylpyrrole carboxylate guest molecule (1). Upon addition of 1 to the cyclodextrin vesicles at neutral pH, the vesicles aggregate (but do not fuse), as shown by using UV/Vis and fluorescence spectroscopy, dynamic light scattering, ζ-potential measurements, cryogenic transmission electron microscopy, and atomic force microscopy. Aggregation of the vesicles is induced by a twofold supramolecular interaction. First, the adamantyl group of 1 forms an inclusion complex with β-cyclodextrin. Second, at neutral pH the guanidiniocarbonylpyrrole carboxylate zwitterion dimerizes through the formation of hydrogen-bonded ion pairs. Because the dimerization of 1 depends on the zwitterionic protonation state of 1, the aggregation of the cyclodextrin vesicles is also pH dependent; the cyclodextrin vesicles do not interact at pH 5 or 9, at which 1 is either cationic or anionic and, therefore, not self-complementary. These observations are consistent with molecular recognition of the vesicles through a combination of two different supramolecular interactions, that is, host–guest inclusion and dimerization of zwitterions, at the bilayer membrane surface.