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  1. 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 netmore »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 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
  2. Using atomistic molecular dynamics simulations, we study the interaction of ternary methacrylate polymers, composed of charged cationic, hydrophobic and neutral polar groups, with model bacterial membrane. Our simulation data shows that the random ternary polymers can penetrate deep into the membrane interior and partitioning of even a single polymer has a pronounced effect on the membrane structure. Lipid reorganization, on polymer binding, shows a strong affinity of the ternary polymer for anionic POPG lipids and the same is compared with the control case of binary polymers (only cationic and hydrophobic groups). While binary polymers exhibit strong propensity of acquired amphiphilicmore »conformations upon membrane insertion, our results strongly suggest that such amphiphilic conformations are absent in the case of random ternary polymers. The ternary polymers adopt a more folded conformation, staying aligned in the direction of the membrane normal and subsequently penetrating deeper into the membrane interior suggesting a novel membrane partitioning mechanism without amphiphilic conformations. Finally, we also examine the interactions of ternary polymer aggregates with model bacterial membranes, which show that replacing some of the hydrophobic groups by polar groups leads to weakly held ternary aggregates enabling them to undergo rapid partitioning and insertion into membrane interior. Our work thus underscores the role of inclusion of polar groups into the framework of traditional binary biomimetic antimicrobial polymers and suggests different mode of partitioning into bacterial membranes, mimicking antimicrobial mechanism of globular antimicrobial peptides like Defensin.« less