Haley, Jennifer Ayers
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Polymer-Peptide hybrids are a novel class of macromolecules that combine sophisticated functionality of biopolymers with synthetic versatility of synthetic polymers. Initially developed by biochemist for bio-medical applications, polymer-peptide hybrids have recently garnered a lot of attention by material scientists for a diverse range of applications including nanotechnology, photonics as well as traditional bio-medical applications. In this work, polymer-peptide hybrids were synthesized utilizing a modular grafting procedure in which Cysteine-containing peptides are “clicked” on the hydrophobic segment of the amphiphilic polymer polybutadiene-block-poly(ethylene oxide) (PBD-b-PEO) via free radical addition of the thiol onto the double bonds. These polymer-peptide hybrids were then applied in two areas of research: tuning amphiphilic block copolymer self-assemblies with grafted charged peptides and combinative self-assembly with DNA. Grafting short charged peptides onto PBD-b-PEO results in self-assemblies driven by a combination of hydrophobic association, ionic disturbances and H-bonding. Clustering gene-binding peptides, KWKn, onto (PBD-b-PEO) dramatically changes the DNA condensation pathway. By varying the grafting density and peptide sequence, precise control over the DNA condensation process can be accomplished.