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Hydrophobicity of a counterion has a profound effect on the interaction with polyelectrolytes similar to that of multivalency. Specifically, understanding this interaction in weak polyelectrolyte micelles might assist in developing nanocarriers for pH-controlled encapsulation and release. We used star-like weak polyelectrolyte micelles of polystyrene-block-poly(2-vinyl pyridine) (PS-P2VP) with fixed aggregation number as a model polyelectrolyte, and cobalt bis(1,2-dicarbollide) (COSAN) as a model hydrophobic anion. We used NMR to assess the mobility of the polymer segments in the presence of varying amounts of COSAN, and at varying protonation degrees of the polyelectrolyte. Same experiments with indifferent electrolyte (NaCl) were used as a control. Furthermore, we used coarse-grained simulations to obtain a detailed picture of the effect of hydrophobic counterions on the conformation of the micelles. A small amount of hydrophobic counterions causes morphological changes within the micelles, whereas a bigger amount causes precipitation. This was confirmed both in simulations and in experiments. Furthermore, adsorption of the counterions induces ionization of the collapsed segments of the polyelectrolyte. Although the COSAN/P2VP system is rather specific, the generic model used in the coarse-grained simulations shows that the observed behavior is a consequence of synergy of hydrophobic and electrostatic attraction between polyelectrolytes and hydrophobic counterions. Our study provides general insights into the molecular mechanisms of these interactions.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: Journal of colloid and interface science
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Particles consisting of aggregates of molecules held loosely together by secondary bonds. The surface of micelles are usually comprised of amphiphatic compounds that are oriented in a way that minimizes the energy of interaction between the micelle and its environment. Liquids that contain large numbers of suspended micelles are referred to as EMULSIONS.
The thermodynamic interaction between a substance and WATER.
A structural motif present in a variety of proteins that mediates protein-protein interactions and assembly of multiprotein complexes. It consists of 3 to 16 tandem repeats of 34 amino acids, mostly of small and large hydrophobic residues, that form ALPHA-HELIX pairs.
Screening techniques first developed in yeast to identify genes encoding interacting proteins. Variations are used to evaluate interplay between proteins and other molecules. Two-hybrid techniques refer to analysis for protein-protein interactions, one-hybrid for DNA-protein interactions, three-hybrid interactions for RNA-protein interactions or ligand-based interactions. Reverse n-hybrid techniques refer to analysis for mutations or other small molecules that dissociate known interactions.
Disruption of the secondary structure of nucleic acids by heat, extreme pH or chemical treatment. Double strand DNA is "melted" by dissociation of the non-covalent hydrogen bonds and hydrophobic interactions. Denatured DNA appears to be a single-stranded flexible structure. The effects of denaturation on RNA are similar though less pronounced and largely reversible.
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