Complex coacervates prepared from poly-Aspartic acid (polyAsp) and poly-L-Histidine (polyHis) were investigated as models of the metastable protein phases used in the formation of biological structures such as squid beak. When mixed, polyHis and polyAsp form coacervates whereas poly-L-Glutamic acid (polyGlu) forms precipitates with polyHis. Layer-by-layer (LbL) structures of polyHis-polyAsp on gold substrates were compared with those of precipitate-forming polyHis-polyGlu by monitoring with iSPR and QCM-D. PolyHis-polyAsp LbL was found to be stiffer than polyHis-polyGlu LbL with most water evicted from the structure but with sufficient interfacial water remaining for molecular rearrangement to occur. This thin layer is believed to be fluid and like preformed coacervate films, capable of spreading over both hydrophilic ethylene glycol as well as hydrophobic monolayers. These results suggest that coacervate-forming polyelectrolytes deserve consideration for potential LbL applications and point to LbL as an important process by which biological materials form.
Complex coacervates; biomaterials; iSPR; QCM; polyelectrolytes; Layer-by-layer
Mussel foot protein-1 (mfp-1) is an essential constituent of the protective cuticle covering all exposed portions of the byssus (plaque and the thread) that marine mussels use to attach to intertidal rocks. The reversible complexation of Fe3+ by the 3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine (Dopa) side chains in mfp-1 in Mytilus californianus cuticle is responsible for its high extensibility (120%) as well as its stiffness (2 GPa) due to the formation of sacrificial bonds that help to dissipate energy and avoid accumulation of stresses in the material. We have investigated the interactions between Fe3+ and mfp-1 from two mussel species, M. californianus (Mc) and M. edulis (Me), using both surface sensitive and solution phase techniques. Our results show that although mfp-1 homologues from both species bind Fe3+, mfp-1 (Mc) contains Dopa with two distinct Fe3+-binding tendencies and prefers to form intramolecular complexes with Fe3+. In contrast, mfp-1 (Me) is better adapted to intermolecular Fe3+ binding by Dopa. Addition of Fe3+ did not significantly increase the cohesion energy between the mfp-1 (Mc) films at pH 5.5. However, iron appears to stabilize the cohesive bridging of mfp-1 (Mc) films at the physiologically relevant pH of 7.5, where most other mfps lose their ability to adhere reversibly. Understanding the molecular mechanisms underpinning the capacity of M. californianus cuticle to withstand twice the strain of M. edulis cuticle is important for engineering of tunable strain tolerant composite coatings for biomedical applications.
Mussel (Mytilus californianus) adhesion to marine surfaces involves an intricate and adaptive synergy of molecules and spatio-temporal processes. Although the molecules, such as mussel foot proteins (mfps), are well characterized, deposition details remain vague and speculative. Developing methods for the precise surveillance of conditions that apply during mfp deposition would aid both in understanding mussel adhesion and translating this adhesion into useful technologies. To probe the interfacial pH at which mussels buffer the local environment during mfp deposition, a lipid bilayer with tethered pH-sensitive fluorochromes was assembled on mica. The interfacial pH during foot contact with modified mica ranged from 2.2−3.3, which is well below the seawater pH of ~8. The acidic pH serves multiple functions: it limits mfp-Dopa oxidation, thereby enabling the catecholic functionalities to adsorb to surface oxides by H-bonding and metal ion coordination, and provides a solubility switch for mfps, most of which aggregate at pH ≥ 7-8.
Dopa; mussel interfacial pH; pH sensitive surface; Oregon Green 488 DHPE
Marine organisms process and deliver many of their underwater coatings and adhesives as complex fluids. In marine mussels, one such fluid, secreted during the formation of adhesive plaques, consists of a concentrated colloidal suspension of a mussel foot protein (mfp) known as Mfp-3S. Results of this study suggest that Mfp-3S becomes a complex fluid by a liquid-liquid phase separation from equilibrium solution at a pH and ionic strength reminiscent of conditions created by the mussel foot during plaque formation. The pH dependence of phase separation and its sensitivity indicate that inter/intra-molecular electrostatic interactions are partially responsible for driving the phase separation. Hydrophobic interactions between the nonpolar Mfp-3S proteins provide another important driving force for coacervation. As complex coacervation typically results from charge-charge interactions between polyanions and polycations, Mfp-3S is thus unique in being the only known protein that coacervates with itself. The Mfp-3S coacervate was shown to have an effective interfacial energy of ≤ 1 mJ/m2 which explains its tendency to spread over or engulf most surfaces. Of particular interest to biomedical applications is the extremely high adsorption capacity of coacervated Mfp-3S on hydroxyapatite.
The robust, proteinaceous egg capsules of marine prosobranch gastropods (genus Busycotypus) exhibit unique biomechanical properties such as high elastic strain recovery and elastic energy dissipation capability. Capsule material possesses long-range extensibility that is fully recoverable and is the result of a secondary structure phase transition from α-helix to extended β-sheet rather than of entropic (rubber) elasticity. We report here the characterization of the precursor proteins that make up this material. Three different proteins have been purified and analyzed, and complete protein sequences deduced from messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) transcripts. Circular dichroism (CD) and Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectra indicate that the proteins are strongly α-helical in solution and primary sequence analysis suggests that these proteins have a propensity to form coiled-coils. This is in agreement with previous wide-angle x-ray scattering (WAXS) and solid-state Raman spectroscopic analysis of mature egg capsules.
Egg capsule; elasticity; coiled-coil; α-β transition; shape memory; self-healing
Biomineralization is an intricate process that relies on precise physiological control of solution and interface properties. Despite much research of the process, mechanistic details of biomineralization are only beginning to be understood, and studies of additives seldom investigate a wide space of chemical conditions in mineralizing solutions. We present a ternary diagram-based method that globally identifies the changing roles and effects of polymer additives in mineralization. Simple polyanions were demonstrated to induce a great variety of morphologies, each of which can be selectively and reproducibly fabricated. This chemical and physical analysis also aided in identifying conditions that selectively promote heterogeneous nucleation and controlled cooperative assembly, manifested here in the form of highly organized cones. Similar complex shapes of CaCO3 have previously been synthesized using double hydrophilic block copolymers. We have found the biomimetic mineralization process to occur interfacially and by the assembly of precursor modules, which generate large mesocrystals with high dependence on pH and substrate surface.
The 1,1-Diphenyl-2-picryl-hydrazyl (DPPH) assay is well established for the in vitro determination of antioxidant activity in food and biological extracts. The standard DPPH assay uses methanol or ethanol as solvents, or buffered alcoholic solutions in a ratio of 40%/60% (buffer/alcohol, v/v) to keep the hydrophobic hydrazyl radical and phenolic test compounds soluble while offering sufficient buffering capacity at different pHs tested. Following this protocol, we were unable to keep proteinaceous antioxidants soluble at different pHs to test for their antioxidant activity. Thus, the assay protocol was modified as follows to improve its utility:
Non-ionic detergents were added to keep the DPPH radical soluble and to provide a mild and non-denaturing environment for the antioxidant protein.Maximal concentration of DPPH was limited to 100 μM to stay within the sensitivity range of the detector at the given wavelength (515 nm) and to increase the dynamic range of the assay.0.1 M citrate phosphate buffer was introduced to prevent experimental artifacts due to changing buffer compositions at different pHs
DPPH radical; antioxidant proteins; non-ionic detergent; pH range
The sandcastle worm Phragmatopoma californica, a marine polychaete, constructs a tube-like shelter by cementing together sand grains using a glue secreted from the building organ in its thorax. The glue is a mixture of post-translationally modified proteins, notably the cement proteins Pc-1 and Pc-2 with the amino acid, 3,4-dihydroxyphenyl-L-alanine (DOPA). Significant amounts of a halogenated derivative of DOPA were isolated from the worm cement following partial acid hydrolysis and capture of catecholic amino acids by phenylboronate affinity chromatography. Analysis by tandem mass spectrometry and 1H NMR indicates the DOPA derivative to be 2-chloro-4, 5-dihydroxyphenyl-L-alanine. The potential roles of 2-chloro-DOPA in chemical defense and underwater adhesion are considered.
2-chloro-4,5-dihydroxyphenylalanine; Adhesive protein; Cement; Phragmatopoma californica; Sandcastle worm
The mussel byssal cuticle employs DOPA-Fe3+ complexation to provide strong, yet reversible crosslinking. Synthetic constructs employing this design motif based on catechol units are plagued by oxidation-driven degradation of the catechol units and the requirement for highly alkaline pH conditions leading to decreased performance and loss of supramolecular properties. Herein, a platform based on a 4-arm poly(ethylene glycol) hydrogel system is used to explore the utility of DOPA analogues such as the parent catechol and derivatives, 4-nitrocatechol (nCat) and 3-hydroxy-4-pyridinonone (HOPO), as structural crosslinking agents upon complexation with metal ions. HOPO moieties are found to hold particular promise, as robust gelation with Fe3+ occurs at physiological pH and is found to be largely resistant to oxidative degradation. Gelation is also shown to be triggered by other biorelevant metal ions such as Al3+, Ga3+ and Cu2+ which allows for tuning of the release and dissolution profiles with potential application as injectable delivery systems.
The free radical method using 1,1-diphenyl-2-picryl-hydrazyl (DPPH) is a well established assay for the in vitro determination of antioxidant activity in food and biological extracts. The standard DPPH assay uses methanol or ethanol as solvents, or buffered alcoholic solutions in a ratio of 40%/60% (buffer/alcohol, v/v) to keep the hydrophobic hydrazyl radical and phenolic test compounds soluble while offering sufficient buffering capacity at different pHs tested. Following this protocol, we were unable to keep proteinaceous antioxidants soluble at different pHs to test for their antioxidant activity. Thus, the assay protocol was modified as follows to improve its utility:•Non-ionic detergents were added to keep the DPPH radical soluble and to provide a mild and non-denaturing environment for the antioxidant protein.•Maximal concentration of DPPH was limited to 100 μM to stay within the sensitivity range of the detector at the given wavelength (515 nm) and to increase the dynamic range of the assay.•0.1 M citrate phosphate buffer was introduced to prevent experimental artifacts due to changing buffer compositions at different pHs.
DPPH radical; Antioxidant proteins; Non-ionic detergent; pH range
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.
Complex coacervation is a phenomenon characterized by the association of oppositely charged polyelectrolytes into micron-scale liquid condensates. This process is the purported first step in the formation of underwater adhesives by sessile marine organisms, as well as the process harnessed for the formation of new synthetic and protein-based contemporary materials. Efforts to understand the physical nature of complex coacervates are important for developing robust adhesives, injectable materials, or novel drug delivery vehicles for biomedical applications, however their internal fluidity necessitates the use of in situ characterization strategies of their local dynamic properties—capabilities not offered by conventional techniques such as x-ray scattering, microscopy, or bulk rheological measurements. Herein, we employ the novel magnetic resonance technique Overhauser dynamic nuclear polarization enhanced nuclear magnetic resonance (DNP), together with electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) lineshape analysis, to concurrently quantify local molecular and hydration dynamics, with species- and site-specificity. We observe striking differences in the structure and dynamics of the protein-based biomimetic complex coacervates from their synthetic analogues, which is an asymmetric collapse of the polyelectrolyte constituents. From this study we suggest charge heterogeneity within a given polyelectrolyte chain to be an important parameter by which the internal structure of complex coacervates may be tuned. Acquiring molecular-level insight to the internal structure and dynamics of dynamic polymer complexes in water through the in situ characterization of site- and species-specific local polymer and hydration dynamics should be a promising general approach that has not been widely employed for materials characterization.
Complex coacervates; DNP; EPR; Mytilus Foot Protein; Mussel adhesive protein
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.
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.
mussel foot proteins; coatings and adhesives; molecular interactions; surface forces; bioadhesion
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.
A facile synthetic strategy for introducing catecholic moieties into polymeric materials based on a readily available precursor – eugenol – and efficient chemistries – tris(pentafluorophenyl)borane catalyzed silation and thiol-ene coupling is reported. Silyl-protection is shown to be critical for the oxidative stability of catecholic moieties during synthesis and processing which allows functionalized polysiloxane derivatives to be fabricated into 3-D microstructures as well as 2-D patterned surfaces. Deprotection gives stable catechol surfaces with adhesion to a variety of oxide surfaces being precisely tuned by the level of catechol incorporation. The advantage of silyl-protection for catechol functionalized polysiloxanes is demonstrated and represents a promising and versatile new platform for underwater surface treatments.
Catechol; Deprotection; Polysiloxane; Wet adhesion; Lithography
3, 4-Dihydroxyphenylanine (Dopa)-containing proteins are key to wet adhesion in mussels and possibly other sessile organisms also. However, Dopa-mediated adhesive bonding is a hard act to follow in that, at least in mussels, bonding depends on Dopa in both reduced and oxidized forms, for adhesion and cohesion, respectively. Given the vulnerability of Dopa to spontaneous oxidation, the most significant challenge to using it in practical adhesion is controlling Dopa redox in a temporally- and spatially defined manner. Mussels appear to achieve such control in their byssal attachment plaques, and factors involved in redox control can be measured with precision using redox probes such as the diphenylpicryl hydrazyl (DPPH) free radical. Understanding the specifics of natural redox control may provide fundamentally important insights for adhesive polymer engineering and antifouling strategies.
Mytilus; byssus; 3, 4-dihydroxyphenylalanine; anti-oxidant; wet adhesion
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.
The holdfast or byssus of Asian green mussels, Perna viridis, contains a foot protein, pvfp-1, that differs in two respects from all other known adhesive mussel foot proteins (mfp): (1) instead of the hallmark L-3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine (DOPA) residues in mfp-1, for example, pvfp-1 contains C2-mannosyl-7-hydroxytryptophan (Man7OHTrp). (2) In addition, pvfp-1 chains are not monomeric like mfp-1 but trimerized by collagen and coiled-coil domains near the carboxy terminus after a typical domain of tandemly repeated decapeptides. Here, the contribution of these peculiarities to adhesion was examined using a surface forces apparatus (SFA). Unlike previously studied mfp-1s, pvfp-1 showed significant adhesion to mica and, in symmetric pvfp-1 films, substantial cohesive interactions were present at pH 5.5. The role of Man7OHTrp in adhesion is not clear, and a DOPA-like role for Man7OHTrp in metal complexation (e.g., Cu2+, Fe3+) was not observed. Instead, cation–π interactions with low desolvation penalty between Man7OHTrp and lysyl side chains and conformational changes (raveling and unraveling of collagen helix and coiled-coil domains) are the best explanations for the strong adhesion between pvfp-1 monomolecular films. The strong adhesion mechanism induced by cation–π interactions and conformational changes in pvfp-1 provides new insights for the development of biomimetic underwater adhesives.
Marine mussels utilize a variety of DOPA-rich proteins for purposes of underwater adhesion, as well as for creating hard and flexible surface coatings for their tough and stretchy byssal fibers. In the present study, moderately strong, yet reversible wet adhesion between the protective mussel coating protein, mcfp-1, and amorphous titania was measured with a surface force apparatus (SFA). In parallel, resonance Raman spectroscopy was employed to identify the presence of bidentate DOPA–Ti coordination bonds at the TiO2–protein interface, suggesting that catechol–TiO2 complexation contributes to the observed reversible wet adhesion. These results have important implications for the design of protective coatings on TiO2.
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.
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.
The extensible byssal threads of marine mussels are shielded from abrasion in wave-swept habitats by an outer cuticle that is largely proteinaceous and approximately fivefold harder than the thread core. Threads from several species exhibit granular cuticles containing a protein that is rich in the catecholic amino acid 3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine (dopa) as well as inorganic ions, notably Fe3+. Granular cuticles exhibit a remarkable combination of high hardness and high extensibility. We explored byssus cuticle chemistry by means of in situ resonance Raman spectroscopy and demonstrated that the cuticle is a polymeric scaffold stabilized by catecholato-iron chelate complexes having an unusual clustered distribution. Consistent with byssal cuticle chemistry and mechanics, we present a model in which dense cross-linking in the granules provides hardness, whereas the less cross-linked matrix provides extensibility.