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Sci Rep. 2012;2:892. doi: 10.1038/srep00892. Epub 2012 Nov 27.

A proton shelter inspired by the sugar coating of acidophilic archaea.

Author information

  • 1Division of Nanobiomedicine, Suzhou Institute of Nano-Tech and Nano-Bionics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Suzhou, 215123, P. R. China.

Abstract

The acidophilic archaeons are a group of single-celled microorganisms that flourish in hot acid springs (usually pH < 3) but maintain their internal pH near neutral. Although there is a lack of direct evidence, the abundance of sugar modifications on the cell surface has been suggested to provide the acidophiles with protection against proton invasion. In this study, a hydroxyl (OH)-rich polymer brush layer was prepared to mimic the OH-rich sugar coating. Using a novel pH-sensitive dithioacetal molecule as a probe, we studied the proton-resisting property and found that a 10-nm-thick polymer layer was able to raise the pH from 1.0 to > 5.0, indicating that the densely packed OH-rich layer is a proton shelter. As strong evidence for the role of sugar coatings as proton barriers, this biomimetic study provides insight into evolutionary biology, and the results also could be expanded for the development of biocompatible anti-acid materials.

PMID:
23189241
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3506980
Free PMC Article
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