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Biomacromolecules. 2003 May-Jun;4(3):632-40.

Effect of oxidation rate on cross-linking of mussel adhesive proteins.

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  • 1Laboratory of Physical Chemistry, Delft University of Technology, Julianalaan 136, 2628 BL Delft, The Netherlands.

Erratum in

  • Biomacromolecules. 2003 Jul-Aug;4(4)1098.


The cross-linking behavior of mussel adhesive protein Mefp-1 was studied by measuring the rate of aggregation of the protein by photon correlation spectroscopy. To be able to calculate the aggregation numbers, the hydrodynamic radius of monomer Mefp-1 (10 nm) was determined under reducing conditions. The aggregation is controlled by the redox potential of the solution, and the aggregation number varied, independent of pH, over a factor 2 within the experimentally accessible redox potential window. A kinetic model for cross-linking, based on the intricate interplay of the oxidation and auto-oxidation of the hydroquinones of Mefp-1, is proposed. The oxidation rate strongly depends on redox potential. The cross-linking rate is taken to be proportional to the rate of auto-oxidation. The model correctly predicts the experimentally observed phenomena. When the oxidation rate is slower than the auto-oxidation rate, cross-linking is efficient and controlled by the oxidation rate. When the rate of auto-oxidation rate is slower than the oxidation rate, the cross-linking is inefficient due to the quick exhaustion of the hydroquinones. The experimentally determined rate constant for cross-linking is found to be much smaller than those found for auto-oxidation of hydroquinones because of the excluded volume interactions imposed by the protein backbone. Tuning the interplay between oxidation and auto-oxidation presents the potential of controlling cross-linking density independent of the density of reactive groups.

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