Facile protein and amino acid substitution reactions and their characterization using thermal, mechanical and optical techniques
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The second objective of the study was to decrease the glass transition temperature (Tg) of OA through internal plasticization and also study the effects of the substituents on the thermal stability of OA. The hypothesis was by covalently attaching substituents to OA, number of hydrogen bonds can be reduced while increasing the free volume and this would reduce Tg. EVS, acrylic acid (AA), butadiene sulfone (BS) and maleimide (MA) were the four groups used. EVS was the most efficient plasticizer of all the four substituents. The Tg decreased with the increasing concentration of EVS until all of the reactive of groups on OA were used up. Tg decreased slightly with AA and BS while no change was observed with MA. However, the substituents showed exact opposite trend in thermal stability as measured using thermogravimetric analysis (TGA). The thermal stability of MA substituted OA was the highest and that of EVS substituted OA was least. FT-IR spectroscopy results indicated that all four substituents caused structural changes in OA. This implied that there were intermolecular interactions between substituted protein chains in case of AA, BS, and MA. This caused an increase in the thermal stability. EVS on the other hand is a linear chain monomer with a hydrophobic end group and hence could not participate in the intermolecular interactions and hence caused a decrease in Tg. As mentioned above the limitation to this technique is the number of available reactive groups on the protein. However, we successfully demonstrated the feasibility of this method in decreasing Tg of protein.
The third objective was to create hydrogels by crosslinking OA with divinyl sulfone (DVS). Protein hydrogels due to their biocompatible nature find applications in drug delivery and tissue engineering. For tissue engineering applications the hydrogels need to be mechanically stable. In this study the protein was substituted with EVS or AA and then crosslinked with DVS. The swelling ratio was measured as a function of pH. All the hydrogels showed the same trend and swelled the least at pH 4.5 which is the isoelectric point of the protein. At basic pH conditions EVS substituted hydrogels swelled the most while AA substituted hydrogels showed least swelling. The static and dynamic moduli of the hydrogels were determined using tensile tester and rheometer respectively. The static modulus values were three times the dynamic modulus. The modulus of the control which is crosslinked OA was least and that of AA substituted OA was highest. The stress relaxation test also showed similar results in which AA substituted OA relaxed the most and the control relaxed the least. FT-IR of the dry hydrogels showed that the amount of hydrogen bonding increased with AA substitution. The hydrophilic AA end groups interacted with each other forming hydrogen bonds. These hydrogen bonds served as additional crosslinks there by increasing the modulus of the hydrogels. EVS on the other hand was incapable of interactions due to the lack of hydrophilic end groups. We were successfully able to create protein hydrogels and control the swelling and mechanical properties by varying the amount of substituted group.
The final objective of the study was to create and characterize microstructures from substituted alanine and lysine. Alanine and lysine were substituted with different concentrations of EVS. Bars and fibers were observed for alanine at moderate substitutions while at higher concentrations random structures were observed using scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Lysine formed tubes at moderate EVS substitutions and rosettes at high concentrations of EVS as evidenced by SEM. FT-IR results suggested that instead of carbonyl one of sulfonyl bonded to the available amine in modified amino acids. And only in this case fibers, tubes and rosettes were observed. X-ray diffraction (XRD) results supported this observation. Using these results we hypothesized that the self assembled structures very much depended on the amount of EVS present in the substituted product and sulfonyl forming Î²-sheet analogs with amine.
- Doctoral Dissertations