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Polymer–protein hybrids are intriguing materials that can bolster protein stability in non-native environments, thereby enhancing their utility in diverse medicinal, commercial, and industrial applications. One stabilization strategy involves designing synthetic random copolymers with compositions attuned to the protein surface, but rational design is complicated by the vast chemical and composition space. Here, a strategy is reported to design protein-stabilizing copolymers based on active machine learning, facilitated by automated material synthesis and characterization platforms. The versatility and robustness of the approach is demonstrated by the successful identification of copolymers that preserve, or even enhance, the activity of three chemically distinct enzymes following exposure to thermal denaturing conditions. Although systematic screening results in mixed success, active learning appropriately identifies unique and effective copolymer chemistries for the stabilization of each enzyme. Overall, this work broadens the capabilities to design fit-for-purpose synthetic copolymers that promote or otherwise manipulate protein activity, with extensions toward the design of robust polymer–protein hybrid materials.Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 20, 2023
Statement of Purpose Hybrid nanoparticles in which a polymer is used to stabilize the secondary structure of enzyme provide a means to preserve its activity in non-native environments. This approach is illustrated here with horseradish peroxidase (HRP), an important heme enzyme used in medical diagnostic, biosensing, and biotechnological applications. Polymer chaperones in these polymer-enzyme complex (PEC) nanoparticles can enhance the utility of enzymes in unfavorable environments. Structural analysis of the PECs is a crucial link in the machine-learning driven iterative optimization cycle of polymer synthesis and testing. Here, we discuss the utility of small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) and quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation (QCMD) for evaluating PECs. Materials and Methods Six polymers were synthesized by automated photoinduced electron/energy transfer-reversible addition-fragmentation chain-transfer (PET-RAFT) polymerization directly in 96-well plates.1 Multiple molar ratios of enzyme:polymer (1:1, 1:5, 1:10, and 1:50) were characterized. HRP was mixed with the polymer and heated to 65 °C for 1 hr to form PECs. Enzyme assay and circular dichroism measurements were performed along with SAXS and QCMD to understand polymer-protein interactions. SAXS data were obtained at NSLS-II beamline 16-ID. Results and Discussion SAXS data were analyzed to determine the radius of gyration (Rg), Porod exponent and pair distancemore »Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 1, 2023