Constitutional dynamic chemistry (CDC) features the use of reversible linkages at both molecular and supramolecular levels, including reversible covalent bonds (dynamic covalent chemistry, DCC) and noncovalent interactions (dynamic noncovalent chemistry, DNCC). Due to its inherent reversibility and stimuli-responsiveness, CDC has been widely utilized as a powerful tool for the screening of bioactive compounds, the exploitation of receptors or substrates driven by molecular recognition, and the fabrication of constitutionally dynamic materials. Implementation of CDC in biopolymer science leads to the generation of constitutionally dynamic analogues of biopolymers, biodynamers, at the molecular level (molecular biodynamers) through DCC or at the supramolecular level (supramolecular biodynamers) via DNCC. Therefore, biodynamers are prepared by reversible covalent polymerization or noncovalent polyassociation of biorelevant monomers. In particular, molecular biodynamers, biodynamers of the covalent type whose monomeric units are connected by reversible covalent bonds, are generated by reversible polymerization of bio-based monomers and can be seen as a combination of biopolymers with DCC. Owing to the reversible covalent bonds used in DCC, molecular biodynamers can undergo continuous and spontaneous constitutional modifications via incorporation/decorporation and exchange of biorelevant monomers in response to internal or external stimuli. As a result, they behave as adaptive materials with novel properties, such as self-healing, stimuli-responsiveness, and tunable mechanical and optical character. More specifically, molecular biodynamers combine the biorelevant characters (e.g., biocompatibility, biodegradability, biofunctionality) of bioactive monomers with the dynamic features of reversible covalent bonds (e.g., changeable, tunable, controllable, self-healing, and stimuli-responsive capacities), to realize synergistic properties in one system. In addition, molecular biodynamers are commonly produced in aqueous media under mild or even physiological conditions to suit their biorelated applications. In contrast to static biopolymers emphasizing structural stability and unity by using irreversible covalent bonds, molecular biodynamers are seeking relative structural adaptability and diversity through the formation of reversible covalent bonds. Based on these considerations, molecular biodynamers are capable of reorganizing their monomers, generating, identifying, and amplifying the fittest structures in response to environmental factors. Hence, molecular biodynamers have received considerable research attention over the past decades. Accordingly, the construction of molecular biodynamers through equilibrium polymerization of nucleobase-, carbohydrate- or amino-acid-based monomers can lead to the fabrication of dynamic analogues of nucleic acids (DyNAs), polysaccharides (glycodynamers), or proteins (dynamic proteoids), respectively. In this Account, we summarize recent advances in developing different types of molecular biodynamers as structural or functional biomimetics of biopolymers, including DyNAs, glycodynamers, and dynamic proteoids. We introduce how chemists utilize various reversible reactions to generate molecular biodynamers with specific sequences and well-ordered structures in aqueous medium. We also discuss and list their potential applications in various research fields, such as drug delivery, drug discovery, gene sensing, cancer diagnosis, and treatment.
- Journal Article