Elastin-based side-chain polymers: Improved synthesis via RAFT and stimulus responsive behavior

Francisco Fernández-Trillo, Alex Duréault, Jonathan P.M. Bayley, Jan C.M. Van Hest, Jens C. Thies, Thierry Michon, Ralf Weberskirch, Neil R. Cameron

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Elastin-based side-chain polymers (EBPs) were prepared by the polymerization of a methacrylate derivative of the pentapeptide valine-proline-glycine-valine-glycine (VPGVG) using reversible addition-fragmentation chain transfer (RAFT) polymerization. The polymerizations proceeded in a controlled manner, yielding polymers with a narrow molecular weight distribution (polydispersity indices 1.03-1.23) and molecular weights in good agreement with those predicted from the initial monomer:initiator ratio for the conversion obtained. The dithioester end groups of the resulting polymers were removed by reaction with azo initiator-derived radicals. The lower critical solution temperature (LCST) behavior of the series of EBPs so obtained was investigated in solutions of varying pH (1.5-5.1) and polymer concentration (0.11-0.97 mg/mL) and for polymers of different degrees of polymerization (29-88 repeating units). These EBPs behaved similarly to linear polypeptides, known as elastin-like peptides (ELPs); the transition temperature decreased with increasing polymer concentration and molecular weight. Unlike ELPs, but in common with previously reported EBPs, a strong dependence of transition temperature on pH was observed due to the presence of the carboxylic acid from the C-terminal residue in the peptide side chains. Significant differences between the EBPs described here and those reported earlier were found, however, regarding the transition temperature at a given pH and its variation with molecular weight. These variations are attributed to differences in architecture between the polymers described here (higher molecular weight homopolymers) and those reported earlier (A-B-A triblock copolymers with short EBP A blocks and a PEG B block).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6094-6099
Number of pages6
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - 21 Aug 2007
Externally publishedYes

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