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Unveiling the role of capping groups in naphthalene n-capped dehydrodipeptide hydrogels

Vilaça, H. ORCID:, Carvalho, A. ORCID:, Castro, T. ORCID:, Castanheira, E. M.S. ORCID:, Hilliou, L. ORCID:, Hamley, I. ORCID:, Melle-Franco, M. ORCID:, Ferreira, P. M.T. ORCID: and Martins, J. A. ORCID: (2023) Unveiling the role of capping groups in naphthalene n-capped dehydrodipeptide hydrogels. Gels, 9 (6). 464. ISSN 2310-2861

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To link to this item DOI: 10.3390/gels9060464


Self-assembled peptide-based hydrogels are archetypical nanostructured materials with a plethora of foreseeable applications in nanomedicine and as biomaterials. N-protected di- and tri-peptides are effective minimalist (molecular) hydrogelators. Independent variation of the capping group, peptide sequence and side chain modifications allows a wide chemical space to be explored and hydrogel properties to be tuned. In this work, we report the synthesis of a focused library of dehydrodipeptides N-protected with 1-naphthoyl and 2-naphthylacetyl groups. The 2-naphthylacetyl group was extensively reported for preparation of peptide-based self-assembled hydrogels, whereas the 1-naphthaloyl group was largely overlooked, owing presumably to the lack of a methylene linker between the naphthalene aromatic ring and the peptide backbone. Interestingly, dehydrodipeptides N-capped with the 1-naphthyl moiety afford stronger gels, at lower concentrations, than the 2-naphthylacetyl-capped dehydrodipeptides. Fluorescence and circular dichroism spectroscopy showed that the self-assembly of the dehydrodipeptides is driven by intermolecular aromatic π–π stacking interactions. Molecular dynamics simulations revealed that the 1-naphthoyl group allows higher order aromatic π–π stacking of the peptide molecules than the 2-naphthylacetyl group, together with hydrogen bonding of the peptide scaffold. The nanostructure of the gel networks was studied by TEM and STEM microscopy and was found to correlate well with the elasticity of the gels. This study contributes to understanding the interplay between peptide and capping group structure on the formation of self-assembled low-molecular-weight peptide hydrogels. Moreover, the results presented here add the 1-naphthoyl group to the palette of capping groups available for the preparation of efficacious low-molecular-weight peptide-based hydrogels.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy > Department of Chemistry
ID Code:112250


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