A series of m-phenyleneethynylene (mPE) oligomers modified with a dimethylaminopyridine (DMAP) unit were treated with methyl sulfonates of varying sizes and shapes, and the relative reactivities were measured by UV spectrophotometry. Using a small-molecule DMAP analogue as a reference, each of the methyl sulfonates was shown to react at nearly identical rate. In great contrast, oligomers that are long enough to fold, and hence capable of binding the methyl sulfonate, experience rate enhancements of 18-1600-fold relative to that of the small-molecule analogue, depending on the type of alkyl chain attached to the guest. Three different oligomer lengths were studied, with the longest oligomers exhibiting the fastest rate and greatest substrate specificity. Even large, bulky guests show slightly enhanced methylation rates compared to that with the reference DMAP, which suggests a dynamic nature to the oligomer's binding cavity. Several mechanistic models to describe this behavior are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5444-5450
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number17
StatePublished - May 2 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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