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New publication in JACS: Transmembrane Transport of Inorganic Phosphate by a Strapped Calix[4]pyrrole

Published on July 24, 2023 Updated on July 24, 2023

by Alessio Cataldo, Karolis Norvaisa, Lau Halgreen, Samantha E. Bodman, Kristin Bartik, Stephen J. Butler, and Hennie Valkenier. First published: 20 July 2023


Synthetic anion receptors are increasingly explored for the transport of anions across lipid membranes because of their potential therapeutic applications. A considerable amount of research focuses on the transport of chloride whereas the transmembrane transport of inorganic phosphate has not been reported to date, despite the biological relevance of this anion. Here we present a calix[4]pyrrole with a bisurea strap that functions as a receptor and transporter for H2PO4–, relying on the formation of 8 hydrogen bonds and efficient encapsulation of the anion. Using a phosphatesensitive lanthanide probe and 31P NMR spectroscopy, we demonstrate that this receptor can transport phosphate into vesicles by H2PO4−/Cl− antiport, H2PO4− uniport, and Cs+/H2PO4− symport mechanisms. This first example of inorganic phosphate transport by a neutral receptor opens perspectives for the future development of transporters for various biological phosphates.