Enzymatic copolymerization alters the structure of unpolymerized mixtures of the biomimetic monomers: the amphiphilic decyl ester of L-tyrosine and L-tyrosineamide--an AFM investigation of nano- to micrometer-scale structure differences.

PMID 15360300


Previously, we have shown that the amphiphilic decyl esters of both D- and L-tyrosine (DELT) self-assemble in aqueous solution above their critical micelle concentration values to form long rodlike structures that can be enzymatically polymerized. In the current study, we have examined the self-assembled structures of unpolymerized and enzymatically (horseradish peroxidase) copolymerized 1:1 molar mixtures of DELT with the nonamphiphilic comonomer L-tyrosineamide. The structures were examined following adsorption to gold-coated mica surfaces using optical microscopy and scanning electron microscopy, but primarily noncontact atomic force microscopy. Both unpolymerized and copolymerized 1:1 comonomer mixture aggregates produced amorphous to spherical shaped structures, exhibiting increased flexibility that contrasted with our previous observations of the more highly ordered long rodlike structures seen with the pure DELT. The unpolymerized comonomer aggregates were amorphous and of varying size. Interestingly, they contained occasional novel structures-smooth, sharp, nipplelike features that rose hundreds of nanometers above the smooth aggregate surface. However, upon enzymatic copolymerization, the structures are altered, forming nearly hemispherical aggregates in contact with each other on the surface. These structures possessed diameters of 1.51 +/- 0.24 microm. The copolymerized structures lacked any evidence of the sharp nipplelike features observed in the unpolymerized sample, but they did exhibit nanometer-scale detailed surface features, indicative of a higher degree of internal organization. The measured surface roughness of the copolymerized comonomer mixture was more than 10 times greater than the surface roughness of the unpolymerized comonomer mixture.

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