skip to main content

Title: Carbodiimide‐Fueled Assembly of π‐Conjugated Peptides Regulated by Electrostatic Interactions**

Peptides naturally have stimuli‐adaptive structural conformations that are advantageous for endowing synthetic materials with dynamic functionalities. Here, we report a carbodiimide‐based approach, combined with electrostatic modulation, to instruct π‐conjugated peptides to self‐assemble and be responsive to thermal disassembly cues upon consumption of the assembly trigger. Quaterthiophene‐functionalized peptides are utilized as a model system herein to study the formation of nanostructures at non‐equilibrium states. Peptides were designed to have aspartic acid at the termini to allow intramolecular anhydride formation upon adding carbodiimide, which consequentially reduces the electrostatic repulsion and facilitates assembly. We show that the carbodiimide‐fueled assembly and subsequent thermally assisted disassembly can be modulated by the net charge of the peptidic monomers, suggesting an assembly mechanism that can be encoded by sequence design. This carbodiimide‐based approach for the assembly of designer π‐conjugated systems offers a unique opportunity to develop bioelectronic supramolecular materials with controllable formation of dynamic and stimuli‐responsive structures.

more » « less
Award ID(s):
2011967 1933487
Author(s) / Creator(s):
 ;  ;  ;  ;  
Publisher / Repository:
Wiley Blackwell (John Wiley & Sons)
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Peptide nucleic acids (PNAs) are high-affinity synthetic nucleic acid analogs capable of hybridization with native nucleic acids. PNAs synthesized having amino acid sidechains installed at the γ-position along the backbone provide a template for a single biopolymer to simultaneously encode nucleic acid and amino acid sequences. Previously, we reported the development of “bilingual” PNAs through the synthesis of an amphiphilic sequence featuring separate blocks of hydrophobic and hydrophilic amino acid functional groups. These PNAs combined the sequence-specific binding activity of nucleic acids with the structural organization properties of peptides. Like other amphiphilic compounds, these γ-PNAs were observed to assemble spontaneously into micelle-like nanostructures in aqueous solutions and disassembly was induced through hybridization to a complementary sequence. Here, we explore whether assembly of these bilingual PNAs is possible by harnessing the nucleic acid code. Specifically, we designed an amphiphile-masking duplex system in which spontaneous amphiphile assembly is prevented through hybridization to a nucleic acid masking sequence. We show that the amphiphile is displaced upon introduction of a releasing sequence complementary to the masking sequence through toehold mediated displacement. Upon release, we observe that the amphiphile proceeds to assemble in a fashion consistent with our previously reported structures. Our approach represents a novel method for controlled stimuli-responsive assembly of PNA-based nanostructures. 
    more » « less
  2. Abstract

    Self‐assembled peptides are an emerging family of biomaterials that show great promise for a range of biomedical and biotechnological applications. Introducing and tuning the pH‐responsiveness of the assembly is highly desirable for improving their biological activities. Inspired by proteins with internal ionizable residues, we report a simple but effective approach to constructing pH‐responsive peptide assembly containing unnatural ionic amino acids with an aliphatic tertiary amine side chain. Through a combined experimental and computational investigation, we demonstrate that these residues can be accommodated and stabilized within the internal hydrophobic compartment of the peptide assembly. The hydrophobic microenvironment shifts their pKasignificantly from a basic pH typically found for free amines to a more biologically relevant pH in the weakly acidic range. The pH‐induced ionization and ionization‐dependent self‐assembly and disassembly are thoroughly investigated and correlated with the biological activity of the assembly. This new approach has unique advantages in tuning the pH‐responsiveness of self‐assembled peptides across a large pH range in a complex biological environment. We anticipate the ionizable amino acids developed here can be widely applicable to the synthesis and self‐assembly of many amphiphilic peptides with endowed pH‐responsive properties to enhance their biological activities toward applications ranging from targeted therapeutic delivery to proton transport.

    more » « less
  3. Abstract

    In an effort to augment the function of supramolecular biomaterials, recent efforts have explored the creation of hybrid materials that couple supramolecular and covalent components. Here, the benzenetricarboxamide (BTA) supramolecular polymer motif is modified to present a phenylboronic acid (PBA) in order to promote the crosslinking of 1D BTA stacks by PBA–diol dynamic‐covalent bonds through the addition of a multi‐arm diol‐bearing crosslinker. Interestingly, the combination of these two motifs serves to frustrate the resulting assembly process, yielding hydrogels with worse mechanical properties than those prepared without the multi‐arm diol crosslinker. Both systems with and without the crosslinker do, however, respond to the presence of a physiological level of glucose with a reduction in their mechanical integrity; repulsive electrostatic interactions in the BTA stacks occur in both cases upon glucose binding, with added competition from glucose with PBA–diol bonds amplifying glucose response in the hybrid material. Accordingly, the present results point to an unexpected outcome of reduced hydrogel mechanics, yet increased glucose response, when two disparate dynamic motifs of BTA supramolecular polymerization and PBA–diol crosslinking are combined, offering a vision for future preparation of glucose‐responsive supramolecular biomaterials.

    more » « less
  4. Abstract

    Shape morphing materials have been extensively studied to control the formation of sophisticated three-dimensional (3D) structures and devices for a broad range of applications. Various methods, including the buckling of pre-strained bilayer composites, stimuli-responsive shape-shifting of shape memory polymers, and hydrogels, have been previously employed to transform 2D sheets to 3D structures and devices. However, the residual stress locked in these shape-shifting structures will drive them to gradually revert to their original layouts upon the removal of external stimuli or constrains. Here, we report a multistimuli-responsive vitrimer (m-vitrimer) bearing thermal- and photo-reversible disulfide bonds as shape programmable and healable materials for functional 3D devices. The mechanical properties and thermomechanical properties of vitrimer were tuned by altering the disulfide content and catalyst loading. Heat and light exposure induces effective stress relaxation and network rearrangement, enabling material shape programming and healing. We demonstrate that printed flexible smart electronics are fabricated using the m-vitrimer as a matrix and printed conductive silver nanoparticles as conductive wire. The printed electronics possess good electro-mechanical properties, strong interfacial bonding, and thermal- and photo-responsive shape programming. Moreover, the m-vitrimer can be healed upon damage by heat and light, which partially restores silver conductivity and protect the electronics from further damage. The converging of multi-stimuli-responsive polymers and printed electronics for functional 3D devices have the potential of finding broad applications in smart and morphing electronics, biomedical devices, and 4D printing.

    more » « less
  5. Abstract

    In this work, a joint experimental and computational study on the synthesis, self‐assembly, and ionic conduction characteristics of a new conjugated liquid crystal quaterthiophene/poly(ethylene oxide) (PEO4) consisting of terminal tetraethyleneglycol monomethyl ether groups on both ends of a quaterthiophene core is performed. In agreement with molecular dynamic simulations, temperature‐dependent grazing‐incidence wide angle X‐ray scattering and X‐ray diffraction indicate that the molecule spontaneously forms a smectic phase at ambient temperature as characterized both in bulk and thin film configurations. Significantly, this smectic phase is maintained upon blending with bis(trifluoro‐methanesulfonyl)imide as ion source at a concentration ratio up tor= [Li+]/[EO] = 0.05. Nanosegregation between oligothiophene and PEO moieties and π–π stacking of thiophene rings lead to the formation of efficient 2D pathways for ion transport, resulting in thin‐film in‐plane ionic conductivity as high as 5.2 × 10−4S cm−1at 70 °C andr= 0.05 as measured by electrochemical impedance spectroscopy. Upon heating the samples above a transition temperature around 95 °C, an isotropic phase forms associated with a pronounced drop in ionic conductivity. Upon cooling, partial and local reordering of the conducting smectic domains leads to an ionic conductivity decrease compared to the as‐cast state.

    more » « less