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  1. Abstract

    Hydrolytically degradable poly(β‐thioether ester ketal) thermosets are synthesized via radical‐mediated thiol‐ene photopolymerization using three novel dialkene acyclic ketal monomers and a mercaptopropionate based tetrafunctional thiol. For all thermoset compositions investigated, degradation behavior is highly tunable based on the structure of the incorporated ketal and pH. Complete degradation of the thermosets is observed upon exposure to acidic and neutral pH, and under high humidity conditions. Polymer networks composed of cross‐link junctions based on acyclic dimethyl ketals degrade the quickest, whereas networks containing acyclic cyclohexyl ketals undergo hydrolytic degradation on a longer timescale. Thermomechanical analysis reveals low glass transition temperatures and moduli typical of thioether‐based thermosets.

  2. Photoinduced thiol-catalyzed hydrogen abstraction and β-scission of acyclic benzylidene acetals is demonstrated as a new route to “command-destruct” polymer thermosets. Using this approach, we show that poly(thioether acetal) networks synthesized via thiol–ene photopolymerization rapidly degrade to alkyl benzoate byproducts when triggered with light, transitioning from solid to liquid within seconds. The light-driven construction and destruction processes, accessible via distinct differences in kinetics, are readily amenable for photopatterning, additive/subtractive manufacturing and wavelength-selective applications.
  3. ABSTRACT Plant-derived aldehydes are constituents of essential oils that possess broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity and kill microorganisms without promoting resistance. In our previous study, we incorporated p -anisaldehyde from star anise into a polymer network called proantimicrobial networks via degradable acetals (PANDAs) and used it as a novel drug delivery platform. PANDAs released p -anisaldehyde upon a change in pH and humidity and controlled the growth of the multidrug-resistant pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1. In this study, we identified the cellular pathways targeted by p -anisaldehyde by generating 10,000 transposon mutants of PAO1 and screened them for hypersensitivity to p -anisaldehyde. To improve the antimicrobial efficacy of p -anisaldehyde, we combined it with epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a polyphenol from green tea, and demonstrated that it acts synergistically with p -anisaldehyde in killing P. aeruginosa . We then used transcriptome sequencing to profile the responses of P. aeruginosa to p -anisaldehyde, EGCG, and their combination. The exposure to p -anisaldehyde altered the expression of genes involved in modification of the cell envelope, membrane transport, drug efflux, energy metabolism, molybdenum cofactor biosynthesis, and the stress response. We also demonstrate that the addition of EGCG reversed many p -anisaldehyde-coping effects and induced oxidative stress. Ourmore »results provide insight into the antimicrobial activity of p -anisaldehyde and its interactions with EGCG and may aid in the rational identification of new synergistically acting combinations of plant metabolites. Our study also confirms the utility of the thiol-ene polymer platform for the sustained and effective delivery of hydrophobic and volatile antimicrobial compounds. IMPORTANCE Essential oils (EOs) are plant-derived products that have long been exploited for their antimicrobial activities in medicine, agriculture, and food preservation. EOs represent a promising alternative to conventional antibiotics due to their broad-range antimicrobial activity, low toxicity to human commensal bacteria, and capacity to kill microorganisms without promoting resistance. Despite the progress in the understanding of the biological activity of EOs, our understanding of many aspects of their mode of action remains inconclusive. The overarching aim of this work was to address these gaps by studying the molecular interactions between an antimicrobial plant aldehyde and the opportunistic human pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa . The results of this study identify the microbial genes and associated pathways involved in the response to antimicrobial phytoaldehydes and provide insights into the molecular mechanisms governing the synergistic effects of individual constituents within essential oils.« less
  4. Thiol–ene photopolymerization was exploited for the synthesis of poly(β-thioether ester ketal) networks capable of undergoing complete degradation under acid and/or basic conditions. Using the design of four novel bisalkene diketal monomers, we demonstrate the ability to tune degradation profiles under acidic conditions with timescales dictated by the structure of the diketal linker, while hydrolysis of the β-thioether ester functionality dominates the degradation profile under basic conditions irrespective of the diketal structure. All four poly(β-thioether ester ketal) networks exhibited degradation behavior characteristic of a surface erosion process. The networks showed mechanical (low modulus) and thermomechanical properties (low T g ) typical of thiol–ene thermosets with minimal influence from the structure of the diketal linkage. To highlight the advantages of endowing a step-growth network with ketal linker chemistry, we demonstrated the ability to recover diketone precursors from the thermoset degradation by-products and recycle these compounds into building blocks for additional thermoset materials.