Active mechanical threading by a molecular motor

26 November 2021, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


Molecular motors transform external energy input into directional motions and offer exquisite precision for nano-scale manipulations. In order to make full use of molecular motor capacities, their directional motions need to be transmitted and used for powering downstream molecular events – a current great challenge for molecular engineers. Here we present a macrocyclic molecular motor structure able to perform repetitive molecular threading of a flexible polyethylene glycol chain through the macrocycle. This mechanical threading event is actively powered by the motor motions and leads to a direct translation of the unidirectional motor rotation into an unidirectional translation motion (chain versus ring). The step by step mechanism of the active mechanical threading is elucidated and also the actual threading step is identified as a combined helix inversion and threading event. The here established molecular machine function resembles the crucial step of macroscopic weaving or sewing processes and therefore offers a first entry point for realizing a “molecular knitting” counterpart.


molecular machine
molecular motor

Supplementary materials

Active mechanical threading by a molecular motor - Supporting Information
Supporting Information Synthesis, Conformational Analysis, Thermodynamic and Kinetic Analysis, Spectra, Quantum Chemical Calculations, X-ray data


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