Entropic (de) stabilization of surface-bound peptides conjugated with polymers

SP Carmichael and MS Shell, JOURNAL OF CHEMICAL PHYSICS, 143, 243103 (2015).

DOI: 10.1063/1.4929592

In many emerging biotechnologies, functional proteins must maintain their native structures on or near interfaces (e.g., tethered peptide arrays, protein coated nanoparticles, and amphiphilic peptide micelles). Because the presence of a surface is known to dramatically alter the thermostability of tethered proteins, strategies to stabilize surface- bound proteins are highly sought. Here, we show that polymer conjugation allows for significant control over the secondary structure and thermostability of a model surface-tethered peptide. We use molecular dynamics simulations to examine the folding behavior of a coarse-grained helical peptide that is conjugated to polymers of various lengths and at various conjugation sites. These polymer variations reveal surprisingly diverse behavior, with some stabilizing and some destabilizing the native helical fold. We show that ideal-chain polymer entropies explain these varied effects and can quantitatively predict shifts in folding temperature. We then develop a generic theoretical model, based on ideal-chain entropies, that predicts critical lengths for conjugated polymers to effect changes in the folding of a surface-bound protein. These results may inform new design strategies for the stabilization of surface-associated proteins important for a range technological applications. (C) 2015 AIP Publishing LLC.

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