pH-Responsive Self-Assembly of Polysaccharide through a Rugged Energy Landscape.

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly versionPDF versionPDF version
TitlepH-Responsive Self-Assembly of Polysaccharide through a Rugged Energy Landscape.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsMorrow, BH, Payne, GF, Shen, J
JournalJ Am Chem Soc
Date Published2015 Oct 14
Abstract<p>Self-assembling polysaccharides can form complex networks with structures and properties highly dependent on the sequence of triggering cues. Controlling the emergence of such networks provides an opportunity to create soft matter with unique features; however, it requires a detailed understanding of the subtle balance between the attractive and repulsive forces that drives the stimuli-induced self-assembly. Here we employ all-atom molecular dynamics simulations on the order of 100 ns to study the mechanisms of the pH-responsive gelation of the weakly basic aminopolysaccharide chitosan. We find that low pH induces a sharp transition from gel to soluble state, analogous to pH-dependent folding of proteins, while at neutral and high pH self-assembly occurs via a rugged energy landscape, reminiscent of RNA folding. A surprising role of salt is to lubricate the conformational search for the thermodynamically stable states. Although our simulations represent the early events in the self-assembly process of chitosan, which may take seconds or minutes to complete, the atomically detailed insights are consistent with recent experimental observations and provide a basis for understanding how environmental conditions modulate the structure and mechanical properties of the self-assembled polysaccharide systems. The ability to control structure and properties via modification of process conditions will aid in the technological efforts to create complex soft matter with applications ranging from bioelectronics to regenerative medicine.</p>
Alternate JournalJ. Am. Chem. Soc.
PubMed ID26383701