Synthetic mimics of biotin/(strept)avidin
Biotin/(strept)avidin self-assembly is a powerful platform for nanoscale fabrication and capture with many different applications in science, medicine, and nanotechnology. However, biotin/(strept)avidin self-assembly has several well-recognized drawbacks that limit performance in certain technical areas and there is a need for synthetic mimics that can either become superior replacements or operational partners with bio-orthogonal recognition properties. The goal of this tutorial review is to describe the recent progress in making high affinity synthetic association partners that operate in water or biological media. The review starts with a background summary of biotin/(strept)avidin self-assembly and the current design rules for creating synthetic mimics. A series of case studies are presented that describe recent success using synthetic derivatives of cyclodextrins, cucurbiturils, and various organic cyclophanes such as calixarenes, deep cavitands, pillararenes, and tetralactams. In some cases, two complementary partners associate to produce a nanoscale complex and in other cases a ditopic host molecule is used to link two partners. The article concludes with a short discussion of future directions and likely challenges.