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Biomacromolecules. 2012 Jun 11;13(6):1945-55. doi: 10.1021/bm300561y. Epub 2012 May 18.

Solution structural characterization of coiled-coil peptide-polymer side-conjugates.

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Department of Materials Science and Engineering, University of California, Berkeley, California, United States.


Detailed structural characterization of protein-polymer conjugates and understanding of the interactions between covalently attached polymers and biomolecules will build a foundation to design and synthesize hybrid biomaterials. Conjugates based on simple protein structures are ideal model system to achieve these ends. Here we present a systematic structural study of coiled-coil peptide-poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) side-conjugates in solution, using circular dichroism, dynamic light scattering, and small-angle X-ray scattering, to determine the conformation of conjugated PEG chains. The overall size and shape of side-conjugates were determined using a cylindrical form factor model. Detailed structural information of the covalently attached PEG chains was extracted using a newly developed model where each peptide-PEG conjugate was modeled as a Gaussian chain attached to a cylinder, which was further arranged in a bundle-like configuration of three or four cylinders. The peptide-polymer side-conjugates were found to retain helix bundle structure, with the polymers slightly compressed in comparison with the conformation of free polymers in solution. Such detailed structural characterization of the peptide-polymer conjugates, which elucidates the conformation of conjugated PEG around the peptide and assesses the effect of PEG on peptide structure, will contribute to the rational design of this new family of soft materials.

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