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1.  Strong adhesion and cohesion of chitosan in aqueous solutions 
Chitosan, a load-bearing biomacromolecule found in the exoskeletons of crustaceans and insects, is a promising biopolymer for the replacement of synthetic plastic compounds. Here, surface interactions mediated by chitosan in aqueous solutions, including the effects of pH and contact time, were investigated using a surface forces apparatus (SFA). Chitosan films showed an adhesion to mica for all tested pH ranges (3.0–8.5), achieving a maximum value at pH 3.0 after a contact time of 1 hr (Wad ~6.4 mJ/m2). We also found weak or no cohesion between two opposing chitosan layers on mica in aqueous buffer until the critical contact time for maximum adhesion (chitosan-mica) was reached. Strong cohesion (Wco ~8.5 mJ/m2) between the films was measured with increasing contact times up to 1 hr at pH 3.0, which is equivalent to ~60% of the strongest, previously reported, mussel underwater adhesion. Such time-dependent adhesion properties are most likely related to molecular or molecular group reorientations and interdigitations. At high pH (8.5), the solubility of chitosan changes drastically, causing the chitosan-chitosan (cohesion) interaction to be repulsive at all separation distances and contact times. The strong contact time and pH-dependent chitosan-chitosan cohesion and adhesion properties provide new insight into the development of chitosan based load-bearing materials.
PMCID: PMC3888206  PMID: 24138057
chitosan; Surface forces apparatus; pH; interaction; contact time; cohesion
2.  Boronate Complex Formation with Dopa Containing Mussel Adhesive Protein Retards pH-Induced Oxidation and Enables Adhesion to Mica 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(10):e108869.
The biochemistry of mussel adhesion has inspired the design of surface primers, adhesives, coatings and gels for technological applications. These mussel-inspired systems often focus on incorporating the amino acid 3,4-dihydroxyphenyl-L-alanine (Dopa) or a catecholic analog into a polymer. Unfortunately, effective use of Dopa is compromised by its susceptibility to auto-oxidation at neutral pH. Oxidation can lead to loss of adhesive function and undesired covalent cross-linking. Mussel foot protein 5 (Mfp-5), which contains ∼30 mole % Dopa, is a superb adhesive under reducing conditions but becomes nonadhesive after pH-induced oxidation. Here we report that the bidentate complexation of borate by Dopa to form a catecholato-boronate can be exploited to retard oxidation. Although exposure of Mfp-5 to neutral pH typically oxidizes Dopa, resulting in a>95% decrease in adhesion, inclusion of borate retards oxidation at the same pH. Remarkably, this Dopa-boronate complex dissociates upon contact with mica to allow for a reversible Dopa-mediated adhesion. The borate protection strategy allows for Dopa redox stability and maintained adhesive function in an otherwise oxidizing environment.
PMCID: PMC4193769  PMID: 25303409
3.  Adhesion and hemifusion of cytoplasmic myelin lipid membranes are highly dependent on the lipid composition 
Biochimica et Biophysica Acta  2011;1818(3):402-410.
We report the effects of calcium ions on the adhesion and hemifusion mechanisms of model supported myelin lipid bilayer membranes of differing lipid composition. As in our previous studies [1, 2], the lipid compositions used mimic “healthy” and “diseased-like” (experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, EAE) membranes. Our results show that the interaction forces as a function of membrane separation distance are well described by a generic model that also (and in particular) includes the hydrophobic interaction arising from the hydrophobically exposed (interior) parts of the bilayers. The model is able to capture the mechanical instability that triggers the onset of the hemifusion event, and highlights the primary role of the hydrophobic interaction in membrane fusion. The effects of lipid composition on the fusion mechanism, and the adhesion forces between myelin lipid bilayers, can be summarized as follow: in calcium-free buffer, healthy membranes do not present any signs of adhesion or hemifusion, while diseased membranes hemifuse easily. Addition of 2 mM calcium favors adhesion and hemifusion of the membranes independently of their composition, but the mechanisms involved in the two processes were different: healthy bilayers systematically presented stronger adhesion forces and lower energy barriers to fusion compared to diseased bilayers. These results are of particular relevance for understanding lesion development (demyelination, swelling, vacuolization and/or vesiculation) in myelin associated diseases such as multiple sclerosis and its relationship to lipid domain formation in myelin membranes.
PMCID: PMC3273667  PMID: 22047743
Multiple sclerosis; hemi-fusion; lipid membrane
4.  The adhesion of mussel foot protein-3 to TiO2 surfaces: the effect of pH 
Biomacromolecules  2013;14(4):1072-1077.
The underwater adhesion of marine mussels relies on mussel foot proteins (mfps) rich in the catecholic amino acid 3, 4-dihydroxyphenylalanine (Dopa). As a side-chain, Dopa is capable of strong bidentate interactions with a variety of surfaces, including many minerals and metal oxides. Titanium is among the most widely used medical implant material and quickly forms a TiO2 passivation layer under physiological conditions. Understanding the binding mechanism of Dopa to TiO2 surfaces is therefore of considerable theoretical and practical interest. Using a surface forces apparatus, we explored the force-distance profiles and adhesion energies of mussel foot protein 3 (mfp-3) to TiO2 surfaces at three different pHs (pH3, 5.5 and 7.5). At pH3, mfp-3 showed the strongest adhesion force on TiO2, with an adhesion energy of ~ −7.0 mJ/m2. Increasing the pH gives rise to two opposing effects: (1) increased oxidation of Dopa, thus decreasing availability for the Dopa-mediated adhesion, and (2) increased bidentate Dopa-Ti coordination, leading to the further stabilization of the Dopa group and thus an increasing of adhesion force. Both effects were reflected in the resonance-enhanced Raman spectra obtained at the three deposition pHs. The two competing effects give rise to a higher adhesion force of mfp-3 on TiO2 surface at pH 7.5 than at pH 5.5. Our results suggest that Dopa-containing proteins and synthetic polymers have great potential as coating materials for medical implant materials, particularly if redox activity can be controlled.
PMCID: PMC3635841  PMID: 23452271
5.  Adhesion of mussel foot proteins to different substrate surfaces 
Mussel foot proteins (mfps) have been investigated as a source of inspiration for the design of underwater coatings and adhesives. Recent analysis of various mfps by a surface forces apparatus (SFA) revealed that mfp-1 functions as a coating, whereas mfp-3 and mfp-5 resemble adhesive primers on mica surfaces. To further refine and elaborate the surface properties of mfps, the force–distance profiles of the interactions between thin mfp (i.e. mfp-1, mfp-3 or mfp-5) films and four different surface chemistries, namely mica, silicon dioxide, polymethylmethacrylate and polystyrene, were measured by an SFA. The results indicate that the adhesion was exquisitely dependent on the mfp tested, the substrate surface chemistry and the contact time. Such studies are essential for understanding the adhesive versatility of mfps and related/similar adhesion proteins, and for translating this versatility into a new generation of coatings and (including in vivo) adhesive materials.
PMCID: PMC3565691  PMID: 23173195
mussel foot proteins; coatings and adhesives; molecular interactions; surface forces; bioadhesion
6.  Hydrophobic enhancement of Dopa-mediated adhesion in a mussel foot protein 
Dopa (3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine) is recognized as a key chemical signature of mussel adhesion and has been adopted into diverse synthetic polymer systems. Dopa’s notorious susceptibility to oxidation, however, poses significant challenges to the practical translation of mussel adhesion. Using a Surface Forces Apparatus to investigate the adhesion of Mfp3 (mussel foot protein 3) slow, a hydrophobic protein variant of the Mfp3 family in the plaque, we have discovered a subtle molecular strategy correlated with hydrophobicity that appears to compensate for Dopa instability. At pH 3, where Dopa is stable, Mfp3 slow like Mfp3 fast adhesion to mica is directly proportional to the mol% of Dopa present in the protein. At pH 5.5 and 7.5, however, loss of adhesion in Mfp3 slow was less than half that occurring in Mfp3 fast, purportedly because Dopa in Mfp3 slow is less prone to oxidation. Indeed, cyclic voltammetry showed that the oxidation potential of Dopa in Mfp3 slow is significantly higher than in Mfp3 fast at pH 7.5. A much greater difference between the two variants was revealed in the interaction energy of two symmetric Mfp3 slow films (Ead = −3 mJ/m2). This energy corresponds to the energy of protein cohesion which is notable for its reversibility and pH-independence. Exploitation of aromatic hydrophobic sequences to protect Dopa against oxidation as well as to mediate hydrophobic and H-bonding interactions between proteins provides new insights for developing effective artificial underwater adhesives.
PMCID: PMC3587158  PMID: 23214725
7.  Adhesion of Mussel Foot Protein Mefp-5 to Mica: An Underwater Superglue† 
Biochemistry  2012;51(33):6511-6518.
Mussels have a remarkable ability to attach their holdfast, or byssus, opportunistically to a variety of substrata that are wet, saline, corroded, and/or fouled by biofilms. Mytilus edulis foot protein-5 (Mefp-5) is one of several proteins in the byssal adhesive plaque of the mussel M. edulis. The high content of 3,4 dihydroxyphenylalanine (Dopa) (~30 mol%) and its localization near the plaque-substrate interface have often prompted speculation that Mefp-5 plays a key role in adhesion. Using the surface forces apparatus, we show that on mica surfaces Mefp-5 achieves an adhesion energy approaching Ead = ~− 14 mJ/m2. This exceeds the adhesion energy of another interfacial protein, Mefp-3, by a factor of 4–5 and is greater than the adhesion between highly oriented monolayers of biotin and streptavidin. The adhesion to mica is notable for its dependence on Dopa, which is most stable under reducing conditions and acidic pH. Mefp-5 also exhibits strong protein-protein interactions with itself as well as with Mefp-3 from M. edulis.
PMCID: PMC3428132  PMID: 22873939
8.  Mussel protein adhesion depends on thiol-mediated redox modulation 
Nature chemical biology  2011;7(9):588-590.
Mussel adhesion is mediated by foot proteins (mfp) rich in a catecholic amino acid, 3, 4-dihydroxyphenylalanine (dopa), capable of forming strong bidentate interactions with a variety of surfaces. A facile tendency toward auto-oxidation, however, often renders dopa unreliable for adhesion. Mussels limit dopa oxidation during adhesive plaque formation by imposing an acidic, reducing regime based on thiol-rich mfp-6, which restores dopa by coupling the oxidation of thiols to dopaquinone reduction.
PMCID: PMC3158268  PMID: 21804534
9.  Adhesive interactions between vesicles in the strong adhesion limit 
We consider the adhesive interaction energy between a pair of vesicles in the strong adhesion limit, in which bending forces play a negligible role in determining vesicle shape compared to forces due to membrane stretching. Although force-distance or energy distance relationships characterizing adhesive interactions between fluid bilayers are routinely measured using the surface forces apparatus, the atomic force microscope and the biomembrane force probe, the interacting bilayers in these methods are supported on surfaces (e.g. mica sheet) and cannot be deformed. However, it is known that in a suspension, vesicles composed of the same bilayer can deform by stretching or bending, and can also undergo changes in volume. Adhesively interacting vesicles can thus form flat regions in the contact zone, which will result in an enhanced interaction energy as compared to rigid vesicles. The focus of this paper is to examine the magnitude of the interaction energy between adhesively interacting, deformed vesicles relative to free, undeformed vesicles as a function of the intervesicle separation. The modification of the intervesicle interaction energy due to vesicle deformability can be calculated knowing the undeformed radius of the vesicles, R0, the bending modulus kb, the area expansion modulus Ka, and the adhesive minimum WP(0) and separation DP(0) in the energy of interaction between two flat bilayers, which can be obtained from the force-distance measurements made using the above supported-bilayer methods. For vesicles with constant volumes, we show that adhesive potentials between non-deforming bilayers such as ∣WP(0)∣∼5×10−4mJ/m2, which are ordinarily considered weak in colloidal physics literature, can result in significantly deep (>10×) energy minima due to increase in vesicle area and flattening in the contact region. If the osmotic expulsion of water across the vesicles driven by the tense, stretched membrane in the presence of an osmotically active solute is also taken into account, the vesicles can undergo additional deformation (flattening), which further enhances the adhesive interaction between them. Finally, equilibration of ions and solutes due to the concentration differences created by the osmotic exchange of water can lead to further enhancement of the adhesion energy. Our result of the progressively increasing adhesive interaction energy between vesicles in above regimes could explain why suspensions of very weakly attractive vesicles may undergo flocculation and eventual instability due to separation of vesicles from the suspending fluid by gravity. The possibility of such an instability is an extremely important issue for concentrated vesicle-based products and applications such as fabric softeners, hair therapeutics and drug delivery.
PMCID: PMC3031253  PMID: 21128653
10.  The Contribution of DOPA to Substrate–Peptide Adhesion and Internal Cohesion of Mussel-Inspired Synthetic Peptide Films 
Advanced functional materials  2010;20(23):4196-4205.
Mussels use a variety of 3, 4-dihydroxyphenyl-l-alanine (DOPA) rich proteins specifically tailored to adhering to wet surfaces. Synthetic polypeptide analogues of adhesive mussel foot proteins (specifically mfp-3) are used to study the role of DOPA in adhesion. The mussel-inspired peptide is a random copolymer of DOPA and N5 -(2-hydroxyethyl)-l-glutamine synthesized with DOPA concentrations of 0–27 mol% and molecular weights of 5.9–7.1 kDa. Thin films (3–5 nm thick) of the mussel-inspired peptide are used in the surface forces apparatus (SFA) to measure the force–distance profiles and adhesion and cohesion energies of the films in an acetate buffer. The adhesion energies of the mussel-inspired peptide films to mica and TiO2 surfaces increase with DOPA concentration. The adhesion energy to mica is 0.09 μJ m−2 molDOPA−1 and does not depend on contact time or load. The adhesion energy to TiO2 is 0.29 μJ m−2 molDOPA−1 for short contact times and increases to 0.51 μJ m−2 molDOPA−1 for contact times >60 min in a way suggestive of a phase transition within the film. Oxidation of DOPA to the quinone form, either by addition of periodate or by increasing the pH, increases the thickness and reduces the cohesion of the films. Adding thiol containing polymers between the oxidized films recovers some of the cohesion strength. Comparison of the mussel-inspired peptide films to previous studies on mfp-3 thin films show that the strong adhesion and cohesion in mfp-3 films can be attributed to DOPA groups favorably oriented within or at the interface of these films.
PMCID: PMC3098815  PMID: 21603098
12.  Viscosity and interfacial properties in a mussel-inspired adhesive coacervate† 
Soft matter  2010;6(14):3232-3236.
The chemistry of mussel adhesion has commanded the focus of much recent research activity on wet adhesion. By comparison, the equally critical adhesive processing by marine organisms has been little examined. Using a mussel-inspired coacervate formed by mixing a recombinant mussel adhesive protein (fp-151-RGD) with hyaluronic acid (HA), we have examined the nanostructure, viscosity, friction, and interfacial energy of fluid-fluid phase-separated coacervates using the surface forces apparatus and microscopic techniques. At mixing ratios of fp-151-RGD:HA resulting in marginal coacervation, the coacervates showed shear-thickening viscosity and no structure by cryo-transmission electron microscopy (cryo-TEM). However, at the mixing ratio producing maximum coacervation, the coacervate showed shear-thinning viscosity and a transition to a bicontinuous phase by cryo-TEM. The shear-thinning viscosity, high friction coefficient (>1.2), and low interfacial energy (<1 mJ m−2) observed at the optimal mixing ratio for coacervation are promising delivery, spreading and adhesion properties for future wet adhesive and coating technologies.
PMCID: PMC3085400  PMID: 21544267
13.  Long-Range Interaction Forces between Polymer-Supported Lipid Bilayer Membranes 
Much of the short-range forces and structures of softly supported DMPC bilayers has been described previously. However, one interesting feature of the measured force–distance profile that remained unexplained is the presence of a long-range exponentially decaying repulsive force that is not observed between rigidly supported bilayers on solid mica substrate surfaces. This observation is discussed in detail here based on recent static and dynamic surface force experiments. The repulsive forces in the intermediate distance regime (mica–mica separations from 15 to 40 nm) are shown to be due not to an electrostatic force between the bilayers but to compression (deswelling) of the underlying soft polyelectrolyte layer, which may be thought of as a model cytoskeleton. The experimental data can be fit by simple theoretical models of polymer interactions from which the elastic properties of the polymer layer can be deduced.
PMCID: PMC3043375  PMID: 21359166

Results 1-14 (14)