Design and synthesis of enzyme mimic with programmed molecular interaction among several building blocks including metal complexes and metal chelators is of intellectual and practical significance. The preparation of artificial enzymes that mimic the natural enzymes such as hydrolases, phosphatases, etc. remains a great challenge in the field of supramolecular chemistry. Herein we report on the design and synthesis of asymmetric (nonsymmetric) supermolecules by the 2:2:2 self-assembly of an amphiphilic zinc(II)-cyclen complex containing a 2,2′-bipyridyl linker and one long alkyl chain (Zn2L3), barbital analogues, and Cu2+ as model compounds of an enzyme alkaline phosphatase that catalyzes the hydrolysis of phosphate monoesters such as mono(4-nitrophenyl)phosphate at neutral pH in two-phase solvent system (H2O/CHCl3) in pH 7.4 and 37 °C. Hydrolytic activity of these complexes was found to be catalytic, and their catalytic turnover numbers are 3-4. The mechanistic studies based on the UV/vis and emission spectra of the H2O and CHCl3 phases of the reaction mixtures suggest that the hydrophilicity/hydrophobicity balance of the supramolecular catalysts is an important factor for catalytic activity.
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