Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley (USA) have now developed a new strategy for the formation of hybrid materials from synthetic polymers and proteins. They have thus been able to fuse the specific biological functions of proteins with the advantageous bulk and processing properties of plastics. Polymer-protein hybrid materials may be of use in the manufacture of sensors, nanomachine parts, or drug-delivery systems.
As Aaron P. Esser-Kahn and Matthew B. Francis report in the journal Angewandte Chemie, they have successfully synthesized a green-fluorescing biodegradable gel that responds to changes in pH value and temperature.
Previous processes for the production of hybrid materials depended on very specific coupling techniques that could not be used for some protein side-chains. In contrast, the new method developed by the Berkeley researchers is broadly applicable because in principle it is suitable for any protein. The coupling occurs at both ends of the protein chain—and these are the same for all proteins: one amino acid group and one carboxylic acid group.
Initially, two parallel but mutually independent (orthogonal) reactions are used to activate the two ends of the chain. These are then attached to special chemical “anchor points” on the polymer. The proteins thus cross-link the individual polymer chains into a three-dimensional network, forming what is known as a hydrogel. A hydrogel is a solid, gelatinous mass consisting of water incorporated in a polymer network. A well-known example of a hydrogel is the soft contact lens.
Francis and Esser-Kahn chose to use a protein that fluoresces green to cross-link their polymer chains. Because the protein maintains its normal folding pattern even after attachment to the polymer, the fluorescence is also maintained: The entire gel fluoresces green.
This hybrid material has a special trait: the cross-linking of the polymer chains is achieved exclusively by means of the proteins. Because proteins can be attacked by proteases, enzymes that disintegrate proteins, these gels are biodegradable. The green fluorescence of the protein is pH-dependent. The gel correspondingly also reacts to changes in pH. It only fluoresces in the basic range; in a lightly acidic medium, the gel no longer fluoresces. Raising the temperature also elicits a response from the gel. The protein denatures at about 70 °C, which quenches the fluorescence and causes the gel to shrink.
Author: Matthew B. Francis, University of California, Berkeley (USA), http://chem.berkeley.edu/people/faculty/francis/francis.html
Title: Protein-Cross-Linked Polymeric Materials through Site-Selective Bioconjugation
Angewandte Chemie International Edition 2008, 47, No. 20, 3751–3754, doi: 10.1002/anie.200705564
Matthew B. Francis | Angewandte Chemie
Turning carbon dioxide into liquid fuel
06.08.2020 | DOE/Argonne National Laboratory
Tellurium makes the difference
06.08.2020 | Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena
Scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT have come up with a striking new addition to contact stamping technologies in the ERDF research project ScanCut. In collaboration with industry partners from North Rhine-Westphalia, the Aachen-based team of researchers developed a hybrid manufacturing process for the laser cutting of thin-walled metal strips. This new process makes it possible to fabricate even the tiniest details of contact parts in an eco-friendly, high-precision and efficient manner.
Plug connectors are tiny and, at first glance, unremarkable – yet modern vehicles would be unable to function without them. Several thousand plug connectors...
An international research team has found a new approach that may be able to reduce bone loss in osteoporosis and maintain bone health.
Osteoporosis is the most common age-related bone disease which affects hundreds of millions of individuals worldwide. It is estimated that one in three women...
Traditional single-cell sequencing methods help to reveal insights about cellular differences and functions - but they do this with static snapshots only...
“Core-shell” clusters pave the way for new efficient nanomaterials that make catalysts, magnetic and laser sensors or measuring devices for detecting electromagnetic radiation more efficient.
Whether in innovative high-tech materials, more powerful computer chips, pharmaceuticals or in the field of renewable energies, nanoparticles – smallest...
An international research team with Prof. Cornelia Denz from the Institute of Applied Physics at the University of Münster develop for the first time light fields using caustics that do not change during propagation. With the new method, the physicists cleverly exploit light structures that can be seen in rainbows or when light is transmitted through drinking glasses.
Modern applications as high resolution microsopy or micro- or nanoscale material processing require customized laser beams that do not change during...
23.07.2020 | Event News
21.07.2020 | Event News
07.07.2020 | Event News
06.08.2020 | Earth Sciences
06.08.2020 | Power and Electrical Engineering
06.08.2020 | Life Sciences