Metal Ions for Modulation and Direction of Supramolecular Structures in Protein‐ and Protein-inspired Materials

Research output: Book/anthology/dissertation/reportPh.D. thesisResearch

  • Amanda Andersen
The remarkable properties of many biological materials are often obtained by a combination of smart chemical and hierarchical design. These ‘designs’ provide the basis for the world as we know it, both through the evolution of organisms but also by providing inspiration for the very first and many contemporary engineers. However, even with the tools we have today, enabling the study of nature at the molecular and even atomic scale, many of the functions and mechanisms accomplished by advanced biological systems remain a secret. In the recent years, it has become clear that such functions and mechanisms rely on synergistic effects that cannot be measured on or obtained by the involved components in isolation. An example of biological materials, in which the structure and function are known to be highly dependent on such synergistic effects, is in proteins and in particular enzymes. Synergistic effects in proteins are obtained by variations in the properties of the amino acids of which the proteins are built. Some of the amino acids are known to interact with metal ions, whose presence and properties have been found to play an important role in both structural direction and catalytic activity of many proteins.
Based on this, the work presented in this thesis seeks to contribute to the understanding of how such complex synergies are constructed by studying the interactions of metal ions in protein- and protein-inspired materials.
The majority of the work presented here are biomimetic polymer gels inspired by the versatile chemistry of the proteins in the blue mussel byssus. The exact mechanisms of byssus formation are yet to be determined, but there is a broad consensus within the field that polyphenolic amino acids are involved in both the adhesive, cohesive and self-healing properties, with the last two involving chelation of ferric ions. Herein, the versatile chemistry of polyphenolic species has been utilized to obtain responsive, self-healing materials with interesting, tunable properties and various application fields, through careful material design and synthesis. In addition to providing a platform for design of smart synthetic materials, studies of such model systems offer insight to how some of the synergistic effects in biological materials might function.
The remainder of the presented work is concerned with the modulation of gelatin properties by metal ion interactions. These studies might not be directly usable for construction of new material; however, studies like these are important for our understanding of physical and supramolecular interactions and how these are affected/modulated by their surroundings.
Original languageDanish
PublisherAarhus University
Number of pages216
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019

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