Crystal structure of an amphiphilic foldamer reveals a 48-mer assembly comprising a hollow truncated octahedron

Nat Commun. 2014 Apr 7;5:3581. doi: 10.1038/ncomms4581.


Foldamers provide an attractive medium to test the mechanisms by which biological macromolecules fold into complex three-dimensional structures, and ultimately to design novel protein-like architectures with properties unprecedented in nature. Here, we describe a large cage-like structure formed from an amphiphilic arylamide foldamer crystallized from aqueous solution. Forty-eight copies of the foldamer assemble into a 5-nm cage-like structure, an omnitruncated octahedron filled with well-ordered ice-like water molecules. The assembly is stabilized by a mix of arylamide stacking interaction, hydrogen bonding and hydrophobic forces. The omnitruncated octahedra tessellate to form a cubic crystal. These findings may provide an important step towards the design of nanostructured particles resembling spherical viruses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Hydrogen Bonding
  • Polymers / chemistry*
  • Protein Folding
  • Protein Structure, Secondary


  • Polymers