Self-Organisation in the Assembly of Gels from Mixtures of Different Dendritic Peptide Building Blocks

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Abstract

This paper investigates dendritic peptides capable of assembling into nanostructured gels, and explores the effect on self-assembly of mixing different molecular building blocks. Thermal measurements, small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) and circular dichroism (CD) spectroscopy are used to probe these materials on macroscopic, nanoscopic and molecular length scales. The results from these investigations demonstrate that in this case, systems with different “size” and “chirality” factors can self-organise, whilst systems with different “shape” factors cannot. The “size” and “chirality” factors are directly connected with the molecular information programmed into the dendritic peptides, whilst the shape factor depends on the group linking these peptides together—this is consistent with molecular recognition hydrogen bond pathways between the peptidic building blocks controlling the ability of these systems to self-recognise. These results demonstrate that mixtures of relatively complex peptides, with only subtle differences on the molecular scale, can self-organise into nanoscale structures, an important step in the spontaneous assembly of ordered systems from complex mixtures.

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