Self-replicating system for molecules is achieved everywhere in matters with life, they can produce the most complicated ones like DNA and other substance with ease in the way of replicating. However, these natural and easy mechanism for lives are extremely hard to be made out of body, and at present, the most common and also advanced way for this purpose is Synthesis but with a low yielding rate, as well as accuracy.

Recently, a team of scientists developed a self replication system for rotaxane in labs and the paper was published on the website of American Chemical Society last month (October). It’s quite a common task for scientists to produce rotaxane by the means of synthesis chemistry, thus the auto replication system is another novel way to "synthesize" the chemical.

Before the development of the rotaxane self replication system, there are only such systems for small molecules and scientists are short both in theories and technologies. With the aim of setting up a system in a higher level making it possible for the more complicated molecules to self copy, the team began the project.

In the synthesis of rotaxane, both ends of the pseudorotaxane are unable for replication. Then one of the main difficulties to set up the self copying system is to make at least one of the ends open to be reactive and can replicate. Scientists made use of a liner molecule that was held before the two ends of the pseudorotaxane is closed. The two combine to produce a pseudorotaxane with one end reactive to replicate; then pseudorotaxane and the thread can be copied, finally the self replication system is formed.

However, the thread molecule and pseudorotaxane can also catalyze each other, as a result of which side substances will be produced to influence the replication process. That’s one of the reasons that scientists have no idea about how many circle the replication will work, and how many other types of substances will be produced.

Still the rotaxane self replication system is of great significance for the development of auto coping systems for other complicated substances that are easily made in living organisms. Generally, the newly developed self replication system is a success on the way toward replicating molecules out of bodies and it provides a new direction to produce complicated molecules after synthesis.


1. Orthogonal Recognition Processes Drive the Assembly and Replication of a [2]Rotaxane; DOI: 10.1021/jacs.5b09738

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