Mechanism of Threading a Polymer Through a Macrocyclic Ring

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The translocation of biopolymers through pores and channels plays a fundamental role in numerous biological processes. We describe here the mechanism of the threading of a series of polymer chains through a synthetic macrocycle, which mimics these natural processes. The threading of polymers involves a kinetically favorable "entron" effect, which is associated with the initial filling of the cavity by the end of the polymer. A preassociation between the outside of the macrocycle and the polymer induces a process in which the polymer end loops back into the cavity of the macrocycle. This looping mechanism results in accelerated threading rates and unidirectional motion and is reminiscent of the protein translocation through membrane pores.

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