Toward Artificial Mussel-Glue Proteins: Differentiating Sequence Modules for Adhesion and Switchable Cohesion

New Paper released in Angewandte Chemie International Edition.

Abstract: Artificial mussel-glue proteins with pH-triggered cohesion control were synthesized by extending the tyrosinase activated polymerization of peptides to sequences with specific modules for cohesion control. The high propensity of these sequence sections to adopt b-sheets is suppressed by switch defects. This allows enzymatic activation and polymerization to proceed undisturbed. The b-sheet formation is regained after polymerization by changing the pH from 5.5 to 6.8, thereby triggering O→N acyl transfer rearrangements that activate the cohesion mechanism. The resulting artificial mussel glue proteins exhibit rapid adsorption on alumina surfaces. The coatings resist harsh hypersaline conditions, and reach remarkable adhesive energies of 2.64 mJm-2 on silica at pH 6.8. In in situ switch experiments, the minor pH change increases the adhesive properties of a coating by 300% and nanoindentation confirms the cohesion mechanism to improve bulk stiffness by around 200%.

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