As shown in nature by proteins and nucleic acids, molecular folding allows to position functional groups in space with atomic precision over nanometric distances and gives access to sophisticated functions. The Huc laboratory designs, fabricates and investigates foldamers: bioinspired synthetic macromolecules that also adopt well-defined folded shapes in the size-range of small proteins, but that are neither peptidic nor nucleotidic. Because functions rely on shape, and shape relies on chemical constitution, it is expected that artificial folded architectures may provide access to functions beyond those of proteins and nucleic acids.
A specific focus is to interface these nonnatural objects with their natural counter-parts in hybrid structures (Figures 1 & 2), laying the foundation of a kind of molecular bionics. Can natural and non-natural components be combined? Can a protein be amputated of part of its structure and then mended by a synthetic molecular prosthesis able to enhance its properties?
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