Brian R. Linton


Chemistry Department

Associate Professor
Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh


Fields: Organic, Biochemistry, Molecular recognition

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Office Phone: 508-793-3560
Lab: Smith Laboratories 512
PO Box: C
Office Hours:








Publications (undergraduate co-authors are underlined)

“Curtin-Hammett and steric effects in HOBt acylation reactions,” Benjamin D. Brink, Justin R. DeFrancisco, Julie A. Hillner, Brian R. Linton, Journal of Organic Chemistry, 2011, 76, 5258.
“Introduction to protein structure through genetic diseases,” Tanya L. Schneider, Brian R. Linton, Journal of Chemical Education, 2008, 85, 662.
 “Deuterium exchange as an indicator of hydrogen bond donors and acceptors,”  Lauren R. Steffel, Timothy J. Cashman, Michael H. Reutershan, Brian R. Linton, Journal of the American Chemical Society 2007, 129, 12956.
“Beta-sheet hydrogen bonding patterns in cystine peptides,” Timothy J. Cashman, Brian R. Linton, Organic Letters, 2007, 9, 5457.
“Asymmetric Michael addition of a-nitro-ketones using catalytic peptides,” Brian R. Linton, Michael H. Reutershan, Christopher M. Aderman, Elizabeth A. Richardson, Kristen R. Brownell, Charles W. Ashley, Catherine A. Evans, Scott J. Miller, Tetrahedron Letters, 2007, 48, 1993.
"Host-guest chemistry: combinatorial receptors," Brian R. Linton, Methods in Molecular Biology Vol. 201, Humana Press: Totowa, NJ, Lisa Bellivance Ed. 2002.
"Thermodynamic aspects of dicarboxylate recognition by simple artificial receptors," Brian R. Linton, M. Scott Goodman, Erkang Fan, Scott A. van Arman and Andrew D. Hamilton, Journal of Organic Chemistry, 2001, 66, 7313.
"A versatile one-pot synthesis of 1,3-multisubstituted guanidines from carbamoyl isothiocyanates," Brian R. Linton, Andrew J. Carr, Brendan P. Orner and Andrew D. Hamilton, Journal of Organic Chemistry, 2000, 65, 1566.
"Nitronate anion recognition and modulation of ambident reactivity by hydrogen bonding receptors," Brian R. Linton, M. Scott Goodman, and Andrew D. Hamilton, Chemistry a European Journal, 2000, 6, 2449.
"Controlling hydrogen bonding: from molecular recognition to organogelation,"  Rosa E, Melendez, Andrew J. Carr, Brian R. Linton and Andrew D. Hamilton, Structure and Bonding Vol 96 - Self-Assembled Molecular Systems: Organic Versus Inorganic Approaches, Springer-Verlag: New York, 2000.
"Calorimetric investigation of guanidinium•carboxylate interactions," Brian Linton and Andrew D. Hamilton, Tetrahedron, 1999, 55, 6027.
"Host-guest chemistry: combinatorial receptors," Brian Linton, Andrew D. Hamilton, Current Opinion in Chemical Biology, 1999, 3, 307.
"Orientational dynamics of b-cyclodextrin inclusion complexes," Natalie Balabai, Brian Linton, Adrian Napper, Satayam Priyadarshy, Alexander P. Sukharevsky, and David H. Waldeck,  Journal of Physical Chemistry B, 1998, 102, 9617.
"Experimental measurements of low frequency intermolecular host-guest dynamics," Alexander P. Sukharevsky, Ian Read, Brian Linton, Andrew D. Hamilton, and David H. Waldeck, Journal of Physical Chemistry B, 1998, 102, 5394. 
"Electrochemical studies on molecular recognition of anions: complex formation between para-xylylene-diimidazolinium and dicarboxylates in nitrobenzene and water," Yuanhua Shao, Brian Linton, Andrew D. Hamilton, and Stephen G. Weber, Journal of Electroanalytical Chemistry and Interfacial Electrochemistry, 1997, 441, 33.
"Formation of artificial receptors by metal templated self-assembly," Brian Linton and Andrew D. Hamilton, Chemical Reviews, 1997, 97, 1669.
"Receptors that assemble themselves," Brian Linton, and Andrew D. Hamilton, CHEMTECH, July 1997, 27, 34.
“Self-assembly as a strategy for artificial receptor design,” Brian Linton, M. Scott Goodman, and Andrew D. Hamilton, Self-Assembly in Synthetic Chemistry, J. Wuest; ed., 1996.
"A combinatorial  library approach to artificial receptor design," M. Scott Goodman, Vrej Jubian, Brian Linton, and Andrew D. Hamilton, Journal of the American Chemical Society, 1995, 117, 11610.



"Organocatalysis of nitroalkane reactions”, National Science Foundation – Research in Undergraduate Institutions, Brian R. Linton, 2008, $150,000 direct costs.
 “Hydrogen bonding peptides as asymmetric organocatalysts,” The Petroleum Research Fund, American Chemical Society, Brian R. Linton, 2007, $60,000 direct costs.
“Organic scaffolds that promote extended peptide structure through interstrand hydrogen bonding,”  Research Corporation Cottrell College Science Award, Brian R. Linton, 2002, $33,100 total costs.
“Acquisition of a MALDI/FT-ICR mass spectrometer for multidisciplinary research,”  National Science Foundation-Major Research Instrumentation Program,   PI E. A. Stemmler, and Co-PIs R. L. Christensen, B. R. Linton and C. K. Prudente, 2001,  $280,530 total costs.
Anna Fuller Fund post-doctoral fellowship in molecular oncology, Brian R. Linton, 1998-2000, $50,000 total costs.




Research Topics

Research Interests
Professor Linton's research interests focus on understanding the interactions between molecules, and exploiting these interactions to effect chemical or biological changes. Specific areas of interest are receptor design, recognition of proteins and DNA, protein mimetics, and receptor-mediated chemical synthesis.

At the current time there are three projects underway in the Linton lab, artificial beta-sheet peptidomimetics, using hydrogen/deuterium exchange to quantify hydrogen bonding, and receptor-mediated chemical synthesis.

Beta-sheets are a fundamental secondary structure found in a variety of proteins, but are difficult to mimic in small molecules. Our approach creates small molecules which constrain peptide sidechains into the extended conformation of a beta-sheet. One straight-forward example can be found in Organic Letters, where a cystine linker to propagate an extended conformation in what is likely the world's smallest folded beta-sheet. The rigidity of these structures permits the application to the study of various proteins whose function is derived from a beta-sheet structure, including the inhibition of HIV protease, and Ras oncogenic pathways. Additionally these structures may find uses as novel materials as well as the recognition of specific peptide sequences. This work is supported by an award from Research Corporation.

In the course of the creation of artificial beta-sheets, hydrogen/deuterium (H/D) exchange was used to probe the hydrogen bonding characteristics. The work in our group has shown that this technique can provide more detailed information about hydrogen bond strength than other existing methods. We have observed a novel phenomenon where H/D exchange can be used to identify the individual hydrogen bond donors and acceptors, which is difficult using other techniques. This work recently appeared in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. We continue to expand the usefulness of this technique by quantifying these interactions and probing the steric and electronic limitations.

A third research area relates to the exploitation of small-molecule receptors to modulate the reactivity of bound substrates. These receptors can include commercially available molecules, artificially synthesized receptors and in some cases proteins. This strategy uses binding energies to regulate the environment in which a molecule reacts, permitting control of product distribution, asymmetric synthesis, and providing models for enzyme active sites. As part of a collaboration with Scott J. Miller, we have shown that pentapeptides can be used an asymmetric organocatalysts in the Michael addition of nitroalkanes. They achieve this remarkable selectivity using only hydrogen bonds in the peptide backbone and sidechains.



Current Group Members

Daniel Arnold
Stephen Hahneman
Sarah Neville
Christopher Shugrue


Group alumni

Christopher Aderman, Research Assistant, Harvard Medical School
Joseph Andrasko, Founder and Director of Sankaty Education
Daniel Arnold, current
Charles Ashley, Medical School, University of Vermont
Scott Barbuto, MD/PhD, Cornell University/ Rockefeller University, Postdoc, Rockefeller
Katherine Barnes
Christopher Bragdon, Graduate School, Columbia University
Ryan Brawn, Graduate School, Boston University Postdoc, Pfizer
Henry Brennan
Benjamin Brink, Teaching, Readak
Kristen Brownell, Graduate School, Stanford University
Charlotte Carnevale, Team Leader, Facebook
Timothy Cashman, MD/PhD Student, Mount Sinai School of Medicine
Justin DeFrancisco, Graduate School, Johns Hopkins University
Heather English, Consulting, Anderson Consulting
Stephen Hahneman, current
Kevin Halloran, Graduate School, University of Massachusetts Medical School
Megan Hanly, Teaching, Nashville, TN
Julie Hillner, Teaching, Providence, RI
Lawrence Jackson
Joshua McKeever, Graduate School, University of Pennsylvania
Alex Koppel, Medical School, Columbia University
Kirstin Leitner, Medical School, Ross University
Adrienne Luoma, Graduate School, University of Chicago
David McDonald, Medical School, Ross University
Anthony Metrano, Graduate School, Yale University
Brian Morgan, Graduate School, University of Tennessee
Sarah Neville, current
Rio Nomoto, Medical School, Tufts University
Michael Reutershan, Research Chemist, Merck
Elizabeth Richardson
Christopher Shugrue, current
Lauren Steffel, Medical School, Harvard University Residency, Stanford
Lindsey Tethal, Graduate School, University College London
Michael Warner, Graduate School University of Texas
Jan Welch, Graduate School, Universität Munchen Postdoc ETH Zurich
David Yankura, Medical School, University of Pittsburgh