Supramolecular self-assembly of water-soluble cavitands: investigated by molecular dynamics simulation

  • Kassandra Cendejas
  • Hope E. Parker
  • Dennis Molina
  • Rajib Choudhury
Original Article


In this study, we have examined supramolecular self-assembly process of a hydrophobic guest with a water-soluble host known by the trivial name octa acid (OA). Two octa acids form a capsular assembly only in presence of a nonpolar guest(s). Size and shape of the guest control the stoichiometry of the capsular complex. Here, all atom molecular dynamics simulation has been utilized to investigate complex formation mechanisms of a nonpolar guest (nonylbenzene) with two OA cavitands. Nonylbenzene was encapsulated into the nonpolar cavity of OA capsule owing to solvophobic interactions. Upon encapsulation it was twisted and bent due to lack of free space within the capsule. These unusual forms obtained from the simulation study were in accord with experimental findings. The post-complexation attributes of the guest were regulated by the available free space within the OA and favorable non-covalent interactions between the guest and the walls of the OA capsule. In the identical simulation condition two OA cavitands did not form a capsule without a guest, thus indicating requirement of a guest during the self-assembly of OA cavitands.


Self-assembly Host–guest complex Molecular docking Molecular dynamics simulation Water-soluble cavitand 



Kassandra Cendejas thanks Arkansas Department of Higher Education for SURF fellowship.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Physical SciencesArkansas Tech UniversityRussellvilleUSA

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