Shear-Induced Beta-Crystallite Unfolding in Condensed Phase Nanodroplets Promotes Fiber Formation in a Biological Adhesive.

08:00 EDT 1st April 2019 | BioPortfolio

Summary of "Shear-Induced Beta-Crystallite Unfolding in Condensed Phase Nanodroplets Promotes Fiber Formation in a Biological Adhesive."

Natural materials provide an increasingly important role model for the development and processing of next generation polymers. The velvet worm Euperipatoides rowelli hunts using a projectile, mechanoresponsive adhesive slime that rapidly and reversibly transitions into stiff glassy polymer fibers following shear and drying. However, the molecular mechanism underlying this mechanoresponsive behavior is still unclear. Previous work showed the slime to be an emulsion of nanoscale charge-stabilized condensed droplets comprised primarily of large phosphorylated proteins, which under mechanical shear, coalesce and self-organize into nano- and micro-fibrils that can be drawn into macroscopic fibers. Here, we utilize wide-angle X-ray diffraction (WAXD) and vibrational spectroscopy coupled with in situ shear deformation to explore the contribution of protein conformation and mechanical forces to the fiber formation process. Although previously believed to be unstructured, our findings indicate that the main phosphorylated protein component possesses a significant -crystalline structure in the storage phase and that shear-induced partial unfolding of the protein is a key first step in the rapid self-organization of nanodroplets into fibers. The insights gained here have relevance for sustainable production of advanced polymeric materials.


Journal Details

This article was published in the following journal.

Name: ACS nano
ISSN: 1936-086X


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The internal resistance of a material to moving some parts of it parallel to a fixed plane, in contrast to stretching (TENSILE STRENGTH) or compression (COMPRESSIVE STRENGTH). Ionic crystals are brittle because, when subjected to shear, ions of the same charge are brought next to each other, which causes repulsion.

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