Novel imprinted polymers as artificial enzymes

  • Stephen Whetton

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Derivatives of L-histidine were investigated as suitable models for the Asp-His couple found in the catalytic triad of serine proteases. A combination of molecular dynamics and IH NMR spectroscopy suggested that the most populous conformations of N-acetyl-L-histidine and the N-acetyl-L-histidine anion were predominated by those in which the carboxylate group was gauche to the imidazole ring overcoming steric and electrostatic repulsion, suggesting there is
an interaction between the carboxylate group and the imidazole ring.
Kinetic studies, using imidazole, N-acetyl-L-histidine and the N-acetyl-L-histidine anion showed that in a DMSO/H20 9: 1 v/v solution, the N-acetyl-L-histidine anion catalysed the hydrolysis of p-nitrophenyl acetate at a greater rate than using either imidazole or N-acetyl-L-histidine as catalyst. This indicates that the carboxylate group affects the nucleophilicity of the unprotonated imidazole ring.
31P MAS NMR spectroscopy was investigated as a new technique for the study of the template molecule environment within the polymer networks. It was found that it was possible to distinguish between template associated with the polymer and that which was precipitated onto the surface, though it was not possible to distinguish between polymer within imprinted cavities and that which was not.
Attempts to study the effect of the carboxylate group/imidazole ring interaction in the imprinted cavity of a molecularly imprinted polymer network were hindered by the method used to follow the reaction. It was found though that in a pH 8.0 buffered solution the presence of imprinted cavities increased the rate of reaction for those polymers derived from L-histidine.
Some preliminary investigations into the design and synthesis of an MIP which would catalyse the oxy-Cope rearrangement were carried out but the results were inconclusive.

Date of AwardJul 2001
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorChristopher B. St. Porcain (Supervisor)


  • serine protease
  • histidine
  • phosphonate ester template
  • hydrolysis
  • oxy-cope

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