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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 29, 2025
  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 29, 2025
  3. Polymers that release small molecules in response to mechanical force are promising candidates as next-generation on-demand delivery systems. Despite advancements in the development of mechanophores for releasing diverse payloads through careful molecular design, the availability of scaffolds capable of discharging biomedically significant cargos in substantial quantities remains scarce. In this report, we detail a nonscissile mechanophore built from an 8-thiabicyclo[3.2.1]octane 8,8-dioxide (TBO) motif that releases one equivalent of sulfur dioxide (SO2) from each repeat unit. The TBO mechanophore exhibits high thermal stability but is activated mechanochemically using solution ultrasonication in either organic solvent or aqueous media with up to 63% efficiency, equating to 206 molecules of SO2 released per 143.3 kDa chain. We quantified the mechanochemical reactivity of TBO by single-molecule force spectroscopy and resolved its single-event activation. The force-coupled rate constant for TBO opening reaches ∼9.0 s–1 at ∼1520 pN, and each reaction of a single TBO domain releases a stored length of ∼0.68 nm. We investigated the mechanism of TBO activation using ab initio steered molecular dynamic simulations and rationalized the observed stereoselectivity. These comprehensive studies of the TBO mechanophore provide a mechanically coupled mechanism of multi-SO2 release from one polymer chain, facilitating the translation of polymer mechanochemistry to potential biomedical applications. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 17, 2025
  4. The biological significance of self-assembled protein filament networks and their unique mechanical properties have sparked interest in the development of synthetic filament networks that mimic these attributes. Building on the recent advancement of autoaccelerated ring-opening polymerization of amino acid N-carboxyanhydrides (NCAs), this study strategically explores a series of random copolymers comprising multiple amino acids, aiming to elucidate the core principles governing gelation pathways of these purpose-designed copolypeptides. Utilizing glutamate (Glu) as the primary component of copolypeptides, two targeted pathways were pursued: first, achieving a fast fibrillation rate with lower interaction potential using serine (Ser) as a comonomer, facilitating the creation of homogeneous fibril networks; and second, creating more rigid networks of fibril clusters by incorporating alanine (Ala) and valine (Val) as comonomers. The selection of amino acids played a pivotal role in steering both the morphology of fibril superstructures and their assembly kinetics, subsequently determining their potential to form sample-spanning networks. Importantly, the viscoelastic properties of the resulting supramolecular hydrogels can be tailored according to the specific copolypeptide composition through modulations in filament densities and lengths. The findings enhance our understanding of directed self-assembly in high molecular weight synthetic copolypeptides, offering valuable insights for the development of synthetic fibrous networks and biomimetic supramolecular materials with custom-designed properties. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 6, 2025
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