Indexed on: 15 Oct '13Published on: 15 Oct '13Published in: Acta Biomaterialia
Protein-polymer interactions are of great interest in a wide range of scientific and technological applications. Neutral poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) and zwitterionic poly(sulfobetaine methacrylate) (pSBMA) are two well-known nonfouling materials that exhibit strong surface resistance to proteins. However, it still remains unclear or unexplored how PEG and pSBMA interact with proteins in solution. In this work, we examine the interactions between two model proteins (bovine serum albumin and lysozyme) and two typical antifouling polymers of PEG and pSBMA in aqueous solution using fluorescence spectroscopy, atomic force microscopy and nuclear magnetic resonance. The effect of protein:polymer mass ratios on the interactions is also examined. Collective data clearly demonstrate the existence of weak hydrophobic interactions between PEG and proteins, while there are no detectable interactions between pSBMA and proteins. The elimination of protein interaction with pSBMA could be due to an enhanced surface hydration of zwitterionic groups in pSBMA. New evidence is given to demonstrate the interactions between PEG and proteins, which are often neglected in the literature because the PEG-protein interactions are weak and reversible, as well as the structural change caused by hydrophobic interaction. This work provides a better fundamental understanding of the intrinsic structure-activity relationship of polymers underlying polymer-protein interactions, which are important for designing new biomaterials for biosensor, medical diagnostics and drug delivery applications.