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Title: The function of peptide-mimetic anionic groups and salt bridges in the antimicrobial activity and conformation of cationic amphiphilic copolymers
Herein we report the synthesis of ternary statistical methacrylate copolymers comprising cationic ammonium (amino-ethyl methacrylate: AEMA), carboxylic acid (propanoic acid methacrylate: PAMA) and hydrophobic (ethyl methacrylate: EMA) side chain monomers, to study the functional role of anionic groups on their antimicrobial and hemolytic activities as well as the conformation of polymer chains. The hydrophobic monomer EMA was maintained at 40 mol% in all the polymers, with different percentages of cationic ammonium (AEMA) and anionic carboxylate (PAMA) side chains, resulting in different total net charge for the polymers. The antimicrobial and hemolytic activities of the copolymer were determined by the net charge of +3 or larger, suggesting that there was no distinct effect of the anionic carboxylate groups on the antimicrobial and hemolytic activities of the copolymers. However, the pH titration and atomic molecular dynamics simulations suggest that anionic groups may play a strong role in controlling the polymer conformation. This was achieved via formation of salt bridges between cationic and anionic groups, transiently crosslinking the polymer chain allowing dynamic switching between compact and extended conformations. These results suggest that inclusion of functional groups in general, other than the canonical hydrophobic and cationic groups in antimicrobial agents, may have broader implications more » in acquiring functional structures required for adequate antimicrobial activity. In order to explain the implications, we propose a molecular model in which formation of intra-chain, transient salt bridges, due to the presence of both anionic and cationic groups along the polymer, may function as “adhesives” which facilitate compact packing of the polymer chain to enable functional group interaction but without rigidly locking down the overall polymer structure, which may adversely affect their functional roles. « less
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RSC Advances
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National Science Foundation
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