Tuning the conformation of synthetic co-polypeptides of serine and glutamic acid through control over polymer composition

A. Canning, A. Pasquazi, M. Fijten, S. Rajput, L. Buttery, J.W. Aylott, M. Zelzer

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    4 Citations (Scopus)
    124 Downloads (Pure)


    Ring opening polymerization (ROP) of N-carboxy anhydride (NCA) amino acids presents a rapid way to synthesize high molecular weight polypeptides with different amino acid compositions. The compositional and functional versatility of polypeptides make these materials an attractive choice for biomaterials. The functional performance of polypeptide materials is equally linked to their conformation which is determined by the amino acid sequence in the polymer chains. Here, the interplay between composition and conformation of synthetic polypeptides obtained by NCA polymerization was explored. Various copolypeptides from Glu(Bzl) and Ser(Bzl) were prepared to investigate how polypeptide composition affected the conformation of the resulting copolymer. Polymerization kinetics indicated that the copolymerization of Glu(Bzl) and Ser(Bzl) preferentially yielded alternating copolymers. Both the polydispersity and the conformation of the polypeptides were dependent on the Ser(Bzl) content in the polymer, demonstrating that polypeptide functionalities could be tuned directly by altering the relative amounts of amino acids in the chain. This work presents the first step toward an improved understanding and control over polypeptide conformation through modulating the amino acid composition of the material. Understanding this sequence–functionality relationship is essential to advancing the use of ROP as a technique to design smart polypeptide based materials with specific functions.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2331-2336
    Number of pages6
    JournalJournal of Polymer Science, Part A: Polymer Chemistry
    Issue number15
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2016


    • conformational analysis
    • copolymerization kinetics
    • N-carboxy anhydride (NCA) polymerization
    • polypeptides
    • secondary structure
    • structure-property relations


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