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  1. Abstract Quantification of shape changes in nature-inspired soft material architectures of stimuli-sensitive polymers is critical for controlling their properties but is challenging due to their softness and flexibility. Here, we have computationally designed uniquely shaped bottlebrushes of a thermosensitive polymer, poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) (PNIPAM), by controlling the length of side chains along the backbone. Coarse-grained molecular dynamics simulations of solvated bottlebrushes were performed below and above the lower critical solution temperature of PNIPAM. Conventional analyses (free volume, asphericity, etc.) show that lengths of side chains and their immediate environments dictate the compactness and bending in these architectures. We further developed 100 unique convolutional neural network models that captured molecular-level features and generated a statistically significant quantification of the similarity between different shapes. Thus, our study provides insights into the shapes of complex architectures as well as a general method to analyze them. The shapes presented here may inspire the synthesis of new bottlebrushes.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2023
  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 1, 2023
  3. Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 18, 2023
  4. With the increased prevalence of new SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern, such as Delta and Omicron, the COVID-19 pandemic has become an ongoing human health disaster, killing millions worldwide. SARS-CoV-2 invades its host through the interaction of its spike (S) protein with a host cell receptor, angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2). In addition, heparan sulfate (HS) on the surface of host cells plays an important role as a co-receptor for this viral pathogen–host cell interaction. Our previous studies demonstrated that many sulfated glycans, such as heparin, fucoidans, and rhamnan sulfate have anti-SARS-CoV-2 activities. In the current study, a small library of sulfated glycans and highly negatively charged compounds, including pentosan polysulfate (PPS), mucopolysaccharide polysulfate (MPS), sulfated lactobionic acid, sulodexide, and defibrotide, was assembled and evaluated for binding to the S-proteins and inhibition of viral infectivity in vitro. These compounds inhibited the interaction of the S-protein receptor-binding domain (RBD) (wild type and different variants) with immobilized heparin, a highly sulfated HS, as determined using surface plasmon resonance (SPR). PPS and MPS showed the strongest inhibition of interaction of heparin and S-protein RBD. The competitive binding studies showed that the IC50 of PPS and MPS against the S-protein RBD binding to immobilized heparin wasmore »~35 nM and ~9 nM, respectively, much lower than the IC50 for soluble heparin (IC50 = 56 nM). Both PPS and MPS showed stronger inhibition than heparin on the S-protein RBD or spike pseudotyped lentiviral particles binding to immobilized heparin. Finally, in an in vitro cell-based assay, PPS and MPS exhibited strong antiviral activities against pseudotyped viral particles of SARS-CoV-2 containing wild-type or Delta S-proteins.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 1, 2023
  5. Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 17, 2022
  6. Abstract Peptidoglycan—a mesh sac of glycans that are linked by peptides—is the main component of bacterial cell walls. Peptidoglycan provides structural strength, protects cells from osmotic pressure and contributes to shape. All bacterial glycans are repeating disaccharides of N- acetylglucosamine (Glc N Ac) β-(1–4)-linked to N -acetylmuramic acid (Mur N Ac). Borrelia burgdorferi , the tick-borne Lyme disease pathogen, produces glycan chains in which Mur N Ac is occasionally replaced with an unknown sugar. Nuclear magnetic resonance, liquid chromatography–mass spectroscopy and genetic analyses show that B. burgdorferi produces glycans that contain Glc N Ac–Glc N Ac. This unusual disaccharide is chitobiose, a component of its chitinous tick vector. Mutant bacteria that are auxotrophic for chitobiose have altered morphology, reduced motility and cell envelope defects that probably result from producing peptidoglycan that is stiffer than that in wild-type bacteria. We propose that the peptidoglycan of B. burgdorferi probably evolved by adaptation to obligate parasitization of a tick vector, resulting in a biophysical cell-wall alteration to withstand the atypical torque associated with twisting motility.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2022
  7. The COVID-19 pandemic is a major human health concern. The pathogen responsible for COVID-19, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), invades its host through the interaction of its spike (S) protein with a host cell receptor, angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2). In addition to ACE2, heparan sulfate (HS) on the surface of host cells also plays a significant role as a co-receptor. Our previous studies demonstrated that sulfated glycans, such as heparin and fucoidans, show anti-COVID-19 activities. In the current study, rhamnan sulfate (RS), a polysaccharide with a rhamnose backbone from a green seaweed, Monostroma nitidum, was evaluated for binding to the S-protein from SARS-CoV-2 and inhibition of viral infectivity in vitro. The structural characteristics of RS were investigated by determining its monosaccharide composition and performing two-dimensional nuclear magnetic resonance. RS inhibition of the interaction of heparin, a highly sulfated HS, with the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein (from wild type and different mutant variants) was studied using surface plasmon resonance (SPR). In competitive binding studies, the IC50 of RS against the S-protein receptor binding domain (RBD) binding to immobilized heparin was 1.6 ng/mL, which is much lower than the IC50 for heparin (~750 ng/mL). RS showed stronger inhibition than heparin onmore »the S-protein RBD or pseudoviral particles binding to immobilized heparin. Finally, in an in vitro cell-based assay, RS showed strong antiviral activities against wild type SARS-CoV-2 and the delta variant.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2022
  8. Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 1, 2022