Synthesis and self-assembly of well-defined poly(amino acid) end-capped poly(ethylene glycol) and poly(2-methyl-2-oxazoline).

Research paper by Rodolphe R Obeid, Carmen C Scholz

Indexed on: 31 Aug '11Published on: 31 Aug '11Published in: Biomacromolecules


Poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) and poly(2-methyl-2-oxazoline) (PMOx) are water-soluble, biocompatible polymers with stealth hemolytic activities. Poly(amino acid) (PAA) end-capped PEG and PMOx were prepared using amino-terminated derivatives of PEG and PMOx as macroinitiators for the ring-opening polymerization of γ-benzyl protected l-glutamate N-carboxyanhydride and S-benzyloxycarbonyl protected l-cysteine N-carboxyanhydride, respectively, in the presence of urea, at room temperature. The molecular weight of the PAA moiety was kept between M(n) = 2200 and 3000 g mol(-1). PMOx was polymerized by cationic ring-opening polymerization resulting in molecular weights of M(n) = 5000 and 10,000 g mol(-1), and PEG was a commercial product with M(n) = 5000 g mol(-1). Here, we investigate the self-assembly of the resulting amphiphilic block copolymers in water and the effect of the chemical structure of the block copolymers on the solution properties of self-assembled nanostructures. The PEG-block-poly(amino acid), PEG-b-PAA, and PMOx-block-poly(amino acid), PMOx-b-PAA, block copolymers have a narrow and monomodal molecular weight distribution (PDI < 1.3). Their self-assembly in water was studied by dynamic light scattering and fluorescence spectroscopy. In aqueous solution, the block copolymers associate into particles with hydrodynamic radii (R(H)) ranging in size from R(H) 70 to 130 nm, depending on the block copolymer architecture and the polymer molecular weight. Larger R(H) and critical association concentration values were obtained for copolymers containing poly(S-benzyloxycarbonyl-l-cysteine) compared to their poly(γ-benzyl-L-glutamate) analogue. FTIR investigations revealed that the poly(γ-benzyl-L-glutamate) block adopts a helical conformation, while the poly(S-benzyloxycarbonyl-L-cysteine) block exists as β-sheet.