Peptide mediated formation of hierarchically organized solution and solid state polymer nanostructures
Biologically-inspired peptide sequences have been explored as auxiliaries to mediate self-assembly of synthetic macromolecules into hierarchically organized solution and solid state nanostructures. Peptide sequences inspired by the coiled coil motif and "switch" peptides, which can adopt both amphiphilic α-helical and α-strand conformations, were conjugated to poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG). The solution and solid state self-assembly of these materials was investigated using a variety of spectroscopic, scattering and microscopic techniques. These experiments revealed that the folding and organization properties of the peptide sequences are retained upon conjugation of PEG and that they provide the driving force for the formation of the different nanoscale structures which were observed. The possibility of using defined peptide sequences to direct structure formation of synthetic polymers together with the potential of peptide sequences to induce a specific biological response offers interesting prospects for the development of novel self-assembled and biologically active materials.