Supramolecular gels made from nucleobase, nucleoside and nucleotide analogs
Supramolecular or molecular gels are attractive for various applications, including diagnostics, tissue scaffolding and targeted drug release. Gelators derived from natural products are of particular interest for biomedical purposes, as they are generally biocompatible and stimuli-responsive. The building blocks of nucleic acids (i.e. nucleobases, nucleosides, and nucleotides) are desirable candidates for supramolecular gelation as they readily engage in reversible, noncovalent interactions. In this review, we describe a number of organo- and hydrogels formed through the assembly of nucleosides, nucleotides, and their derivatives. While natural nucleosides and nucleotides generally require derivatization to induce gelation, guanosine and its corresponding nucleotides are well known gelators. This unique gelating ability is due to propensity of the guanine nucleobase to self-associate into stable higher-order assemblies, such as G-ribbons, G4-quartets, and G-quadruplexes.