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The present invention is directed to the synthesis and use of novel macrocyclic compounds, based upon a new class of expanded porphyrins, termed rubyrins. Disclosed herein is the structure and synthesis of a prototypical rubyrin and various substituted rubyrin analogues, conjugates and compositions. Rubyrin itself is characterized by the presence of six pyrrolic subunits contained within a fully aromatic 26 .pi.-electron macrocyclic framework and by UV/VIS absorption bands that are very red-shifted as compared to those of other porphyrins or pentapyrrolic expanded porphyrins. The rubyrin-type class of compounds is further characterized by an ability to undergo facile protonation at the pyrrolic nitrogens and, once protonated, by an ability to form complexes with anions such as nucleotide-containing compounds. Rubyrin-based compounds are useful as, for example, anion chelators and receptors and as transporters for various anionic compounds including antiviral agents. In addition to the 26 .pi.-electron target system, the present invention concerns other oxidation states bearing the same connectivity and the same total number of non-hydrogen atoms, and various analogues in which different substituents are present at the various meso and/or .beta.-pyrrolic positions or in which furan and/or thiophene moieties replace one or more of the six pyrrolic subunits.