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 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 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.
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.
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.
We present the first study of quantifying the diffusion coefficient of interfacial water on polyelectrolyte surfaces of systems fully dispersed in bulk water under ambient conditions. Such measurements were made possible through the implementation of a recently introduced Dynamic Nuclear Polarization (DNP) technique to selectively amplify the nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) signal of hydration water that is interacting with specifically located spin labels on polyelectrolyte surfaces. The merit of this novel capability is demonstrated in this report through the measurement of solvent microvisosity on the surface of two types of oppositely charged polyelectrolytes, when freely dissolved versus when complexed to form a liquid-liquid colloidal phase called complex coacervates. These complex coacervates were formed through electrostatic complexation between the imidazole-based cationic homopolymer poly(N-vinylimidazole) (PVIm), and anionic polypeptide polyaspartate (PAsp) in the pH range of 4.5 – 6.0, under which conditions the coacervate droplets are highly fluidic yet densely packed with polyelectrolytes. We also investigated the rotational diffusion coefficients of the spin labels covalently bound to the polyelectrolyte chains for both PVIm and PAsp, showing a 5 fold change in the rotational correlation time as well as anisotropy parameter upon coacervation, which represents a surprisingly small decrease given the high polymer concentration inside the dense microdroplets. For both DNP and ESR experiments, the polymers were covalently tagged with stable nitroxide radical spin labels (∼1 wt %) to probe the local solvent and polymer segment dynamics. We found that the surface water diffusion coefficients near uncomplexed PVIm and PAsp at pH 8 differ, and are around D∼1.3×10−9 m2 / s. In contrast, inside the complex coacervate phase, the water diffusion coefficient in the immediate vicinity of either polyelectrolyte was D∼ 0.25×10−9 m2 / s, which is about an order of magnitude smaller than the bulk water self diffusion coefficient, and yet orders of magnitude greater than that of associated, bound, hydration water. This observation suggests the existence of measurable water inside complex coacervates with relatively high diffusion and exchange dynamics, implying that water moves in nanometer-scale pore spaces as opposed to being structurally bound or even absent. We infer from our observation that the PVIm and PAsp chains are undergoing roughly pairwise association, so that largely charge neutralized species compose the concentrated, yet fluidic and partially hydrated coacervate cores.
Electrostatic interactions between the imidazole-based cationic homopolymer, polyvinylimidazole (PVIm), and anionic polysaccharide, sodium alginate, lead to the formation of colloidal aggregates known as complex coacervates in the pH range 4–6.5. PVIm was labeled with the fluorescent reporter pyrene to investigate the coacervation-induced changes in and around PVIm chains. While the pyrene-tagged PVIm had blue fluorescence in water, the coacervate phase exhibited an additional broad band around 492 nm (green) due to formation of pyrene excimers. Fluorescence spectroscopic investigations point toward aggregation of PVIm chains and desolvation upon coacervation. Highly anisotropic fluorescence emission indicates tight packing of the polymer chains in the coacervate. Confocal microscopy of fluorescein-labeled alginate and rhodamine-labeled PVIm shows coacervates as dense aggregates with uniform distribution of the polymers. Fluorescence spectroscopy offers sensitive and easy investigation into polyelectrolyte interactions.
The byssal threads of the California mussel, Mytilus californianus, are highly hysteretic, elastomeric fibers that collectively perform a holdfast function in wave-swept rocky seashore habitats. Following cyclic loading past the mechanical yield point, threads exhibit a damage-dependent reduction in mechanical performance. However, the distal portion of the byssal thread is capable of recovering initial material properties through a time-dependent healing process in the absence of active cellular metabolism. Byssal threads are composed almost exclusively of multi-domain hybrid collagens known as preCols, which largely determine the mechanical properties of the thread. Here, the structure-property relationships that govern thread mechanical performance are further probed. The molecular rearrangements that occur during yield and damage repair were investigated using time-resolved in situ wide angle X-ray diffraction (WAXD) coupled with cyclic tensile loading of threads and through thermally enhanced damage-repair studies. Results indicate that the collagen domains in byssal preCols are mechanically protected by the unfolding of sacrificial non-collagenous domains that refold on a slower time-scale. Time-dependent healing is primarily attributed to stochastic recoupling of broken histidine-metal coordination complexes.
self-healing; collagen; mussel; byssus; histidine
Many biological polyelectrolytes are capable of undergoing a fluid–fluid phase separation known as complex coacervation. Coacervates were prepared using hyaluronic acid (HA) and a recombinant fusion protein consisting of mussel adhesive motifs and the RGD peptide (fp-151-RGD). The low interfacial energy of the coacervate was exploited to coat titanium (Ti), a metal widely used in implant materials. The coacervate effectively distributed both HA and fp-151-RGD over the Ti surfaces and enhanced osteoblast proliferation. Approximately half of total fp-151-RGD and HA in the solution transferred to the titanium surface within 2 h. Titanium coated with coacervates having high residual negative surface charge showed the highest cell proliferation of preosteoblast cells (MC-3T3) compared to the treatments tested. Indeed, MC-3T3 cells on complex coacervate coated titanium foils exhibited over 5 times greater cell proliferation than bare, HA coated or fp-151-RGD coated titanium.
Complex coacervate; Hyaluronic acid; Mussel adhesive protein; fp-151-RGD; MC-3T3; Biocoating
The beak of the Humboldt squid Dosidicus gigas represents one of the hardest and stiffest wholly organic materials known. As it is deeply embedded within the soft buccal envelope, the manner in which impact forces are transmitted between beak and envelope is a matter of considerable scientific interest. Here, we show that the hydrated beak exhibits a large stiffness gradient, spanning two orders of magnitude from the tip to the base. This gradient is correlated with a chemical gradient involving mixtures of chitin, water, and His-rich proteins that contain 3,4-dihydroxyphenyl-l-alanine (dopa) and undergo extensive stabilization by histidyl-dopa cross-link formation. These findings may serve as a foundation for identifying design principles for attaching mechanically mismatched materials in engineering and biological applications.
The cuticle of mussel byssal threads is a robust natural coating that combines high extensibility with high stiffness and hardness. In this study, fluorescence microscopy and elemental analysis were exploited to show that the 3,4-dihydroxyphenyl-l-alanine (dopa) residues of mussel foot protein-1 colocalize with Fe and Ca distributions in the cuticle of Mytilus galloprovincialis mussel byssal threads. Chelated removal of Fe and Ca from the cuticle of intact threads resulted in a 50% reduction in cuticle hardness, and thin sections subjected to the same treatment showed a disruption of cuticle integrity. Dopa-metal complexes may provide significant interactions for the integrity of composite cuticles deformed under tension.
For lasting holdfast attachment, the mussel Mytilus californianus coats its byssal threads with a protective cuticle 2-5 μm thick that is 4-6 times stiffer than the underlying collagen fibers. Although cuticle hardness (0.1 GPa) and stiffness (2 GPa) resemble those observed in related mussels, a more effective dispersion of microdamage enables M. californianus byssal threads to sustain strains to almost 120% before cuticle rupture occurs. Underlying factors for the superior damage tolerance of the byssal cuticle were explored in its microarchitecture and in the cuticular protein, mcfp-1. Cuticle microstructure was distinctly granular, with granule diameters (∼200 nm) only a quarter of those in M. galloprovincialis cuticle, for example. Compared with homologous proteins in related mussel species, mcfp-1 from M. californianus had a similar mass (∼92 kDa) and number of tandemly repeated decapeptides, and contained the same post-translational modifications, namely, trans-4-hydroxyproline, trans-2,3-cis-3,4-dihydroxyproline, and 3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine (Dopa). The prominence of isoleucine in mcfp-1, however, distinguished it from homologues in other species. The complete protein sequence deduced from cDNAs for two related variants revealed a highly conserved consensus decapeptide PKISYPPTYK that is repeated 64 times and differs slightly from the consensus peptide (AKPSYPPTYK) of both M. galloprovincialis and M. edulis proteins.
Hardening of invertebrate jaws and mandibles has been previously correlated to diverse, potentially complex modifications. Here we demonstrate directly, for the first time, that Zn plays a critical role in the mechanical properties of histidine-rich Nereis jaws. Using nanoindentation, we show that removal of Zn by chelation decreases both hardness and modulus by over 65%. Moreover, reconstitution of Zn yields a substantial recovery of initial properties. Modulus and hardness of Zn-replete jaws exceed those attainable by current engineering polymers by a factor of >3. Zn-mediated histidine cross-links are proposed to account for this enhancement in mechanical properties.
biological materials; nonoindentation; histidine; zinc
Most organisms consist of a functionally adaptive assemblage of hard and soft tissues. Despite the obvious advantages of reinforcing soft protoplasm with a hard scaffold, such composites can lead to tremendous mechanical stresses where the two meet. Although little is known about how nature relieves these stresses, it is generally agreed that fundamental insights about molecular adaptation at hard/soft interfaces could profoundly influence how we think about biomaterials. Based on two noncellular tissues, mussel byssus and polychaete jaws, recent studies suggest that one natural strategy to minimize interfacial stresses between adjoining stiff and soft tissue appears to be the creation of a “fuzzy” boundary, which avoids abrupt changes in mechanical properties. Instead there is a gradual mechanical change that accompanies the transcendence from stiff to soft and vice versa. In byssal threads, the biochemical medium for achieving such a gradual mechanical change involves the elegant use of collagen-based self-assembling block copolymers. There are three distinct diblock copolymer types in which one block is always collagenous, whereas the other can be either elastin-like (soft), amorphous polyglycine (intermediate), or silk-like (stiff). Gradients of these are made by an incrementally titrated expression of the three proteins in secretory cells the titration phenotype of which is linked to their location. Thus, reflecting exactly the composition of each thread, the distal cells secrete primarily the silk– and polyglycine–collagen diblocks, whereas the proximal cells secrete the elastin– and polyglycine–collagen diblocks. Those cells in between exhibit gradations of collagens with silk or elastin blocks. Spontaneous self-assembly appears to be by pH triggered metal binding by histidine (HIS)-rich sequences at both the amino and carboxy termini of the diblocks. In the polychaete jaws, HIS-rich sequences are expanded into a major block domain. Histidine predominates at over 20 mol % near the distal tip and diminishes to about 5 mol % near the proximal base. The abundance of histidine is directly correlated to transition metal content (Zn or Cu) as well as hardness determined by nanoindentation. EXAFS analyses of the jaws indicate that transition metals such as Zn are directly bound to histidine ligands and may serve as cross-linkers.
The protein family known as fp-1 provides mussel byssus with a protective outer coating and has drawn much attention for its water resistant bioadhesive properties in vitro. A new fp-l isolated from the green shell mussel Perna canaliculus (pcfp-1) reveals a composition dominated by only four amino acids: 3,4-dihydroxyphenyl-L-alanine (dopa), lysine, proline, and valine at ~20 mol % each. SDS–PAGE and MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry detected size variants at 48 and 52 kDa in preparations of purified Pcfp-1. The N-terminal sequence enabled construction of oligonucleotide primers for PCR and RACE-derived cDNAs from which the complete sequence of four variants was deduced. pcfp-1 deviates from all known homologues in other mussels in several notable respects: its mass is half, most of its sequence is represented by 75 tandem repeats of a tetrapeptide, i.e., PY*VK, in which Y* is dopa, prolines are not hydroxylated, and thiolate cysteines are clustered in homologous sequences at both the amino and carboxy termini. Amino acids in the repeat sequence show a striking resemblance to proline-rich cell wall proteins with tandemly repeated PPVYK pentapeptides [Hong, J. C., Nagao, R. T., and Key, J. L. (1987) J. Biol. Chem. 262, 8367–8376]. Cysteine plays a key role in cross-linking pcfp-1 by forming adducts with dopaquinone. Significant 5-S-cysteinyldopa and smaller amounts of 2-S-cysteinyldopa were detected in hydrolysates of the byssal threads of P. canaliculus. The cross-links could also be formed by oxidation of pcfp-1 in vitro using mushroom tyrosinase. Cysteinyldopa cross-links were present in trace amounts only in the byssus of other mussel species.
Building complex load-bearing scaffolds depends on effective ways of joining functionally different biomacromolecules. The junction between collagen fibers and foamlike adhesive plaques in mussel byssus is robust despite the strikingly dissimilar connected structures. mcfp-4, the matrix protein from this junction, and its presecreted form from the foot tissue of Mytilus californianus were isolated and characterized. mcfp-4 has a mass of ∼93 kDa as determined by MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry. Its composition is dominated by histidine (22 mol %), but levels of lysine, arginine, and aspartate are also significant. A small amount of 3,4-dihydroxyphenyl-L-alanine (2 mol %) can be detected by amino acid analysis and redox cycling assays. The cDNA-deduced sequence of mcfp-4 reveals multiple variants with highly repetitive internal structures, including ∼36 tandemly repeated His-rich decapeptides (e.g., HVHTHRVLHK) in the N-terminal half and 16 somewhat more degenerate aspartate-rich undecapeptides (e.g., DDHVNDIAQTA) in the C-terminal half. Incubation of a synthetic peptide based on the His-rich decapeptide with Fe3+, Co2+, Ni2+, Zn2+, and Cu2+ indicates that only Cu is strongly bound. MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry of the peptide modified with diethyl pyrocarbonate before and after Cu binding suggests that histidine residues dominate Cu binding. In contrast, the aspartate-rich undecapeptides preferentially bind Ca2+. mcfp-4 is strategically positioned to function as a macromolecular bifunctional linker by using metal ions to couple its own His-rich domains to the His-rich termini of the preCOLs. Ca2+ may mediate coupling of the C-terminus to other calcium-binding plaque proteins.
Contrary to conventional wisdom, mineralization is not the only strategy evolved for the formation of hard, stiff materials. Indeed, the sclerotized mouthparts of marine invertebrates exhibit Young's modulus and hardness approaching 10 and 1 GPa, respectively, with little to no help from mineralization. Based on biochemical analyses, three of these mouthparts, the jaws of glycerid and nereid polychaetes and a squid beak, reveal a largely organic composition dominated by glycine- and histidine-rich proteins. Despite the well-known metal ion binding by the imidazole side-chain of histidine and the suggestion that this interaction provides mechanical support in nereid jaws, there is at present no universal molecular explanation for the relationship of histidine to mechanical properties in these sclerotized structures.
histidine-rich proteins; sclerotins; polychaete jaws; squid beak; zinc; copper
The byssal threads of marine mussels are elastomeric fibres with a great capacity for absorbing and dissipating energy. Up to 70% of the total absorbed energy can be dissipated in the byssus. Because byssal threads attach the mussel to hard inert surfaces in its habitat, they must combine the need to be good shock absorbers with appropriate matching of Young's modulus between living tissue and a hard sub-stratum such as stone - stiffnesses that can differ by five orders of magnitude. Recent data suggest that improved modulus matching and decreased stress concentration between different portions of the byssus is achieved by the use of protein gradients. Protein gradients in byssal threads are constructed using natural macromolecular chimeras having a central collagenous domain, variable flanking modules and histidine-rich amino and carboxy termini. Stiff silk-like flanking modules prevail distally, while at the animal end, rubbery modules resembling elastin predominate. In between the two thread ends there is a mix of both module types. The histidine-rich termini provide metal binding/cross-linking sites, while collagen domains may confer self-assembly on all parts of the structure. A graded axial distribution of flanking modules is expected to moderate stress concentration in joined materials having disparate moduli.