S. Zhang, B.T. Karaca, S.K. VanOosten, E. Yuca, S. Mahalingam, M. Edirisinghe, C. Tamerler, “Coupling infusion and gyration for the nanoscale assembly of functional polymer nanofibers integrated with genetically engineered proteins,” Macromolecular Rapid Communications,” vol. 36, pp. 1322 – 1328, 2015.
Nanofibers featuring functional nanoassemblies show great promise as enabling constituents for a diverse range of applications in areas such as tissue engineering, sensing, optoelectronics, and nanophotonics due to their controlled organization and architecture. An infusion gyration method is reported that enables the production of nanofibers with inherent biological functions by simply adjusting the flow rate of a polymer solution. Sufficient polymer chain entanglement is obtained at Berry number > 1.6 to make bead-free fibers integrated with gold nanoparticles and proteins, in the diameter range of 117–216 nm. Integration of gold nanoparticles into the nanofiber assembly is followed using a gold-binding peptide tag genetically conjugated to red fluorescence protein (DsRed). Fluorescence microscopy analysis corroborated with Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) data confirms the integration of the engineered red fluorescence protein with the nanofibers. The gold nanoparticle decorated nanofibers having red fluorescence protein as an integral part keep their biological functionality including copper-induced fluorescence quenching of the DsRed protein due to its selective Cu+2 binding. Thus, coupling the infusion gyration method in this way offers a simple nanoscale assembly approach to integrate a diverse repertoire of protein functionalities into nanofibers to generate biohybrid materials for imaging, sensing, and biomaterial applications.