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Self-assembly and cytocompatibility of amino acid conjugates containing a novel water-soluble aromatic protecting group

Castelletto, V. ORCID:, de Mello, L., da Silva, E. R. ORCID:, Seitsonen, J. and Hamley, I. W. ORCID: (2023) Self-assembly and cytocompatibility of amino acid conjugates containing a novel water-soluble aromatic protecting group. Biomacromolecules, 24 (11). pp. 5403-5413. ISSN 1526-4602

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1021/acs.biomac.3c00860


There has been considerable interest in peptides in which the Fmoc (9-fluorenylmethoxycarbonyl) protecting group is retained at the N-terminus, since this bulky aromatic group can drive self-assembly, and Fmoc-peptides are biocompatible and have applications in cell culture biomaterials. Recently, analogues of new amino acids with 2,7-disulfo-9-fluorenylmethoxycarbonyl (Smoc) protecting groups have been developed for water-based peptide synthesis. Here, we report on the self-assembly and biocompatibility of Smoc-Ala, Smoc-Phe and Smoc-Arg as examples of Smoc conjugates to aliphatic, aromatic, and charged amino acids, respectively. Self-assembly occurs at concentrations above the critical aggregation concentration (CAC). Cryo-TEM imaging and SAXS reveal the presence of nanosheet, nanoribbon or nanotube structures, and spectroscopic methods (ThT fluorescence circular dichroism and FTIR) show the presence of β-sheet secondary structure, although Smoc-Ala solutions contain significant unaggregated monomer content. Smoc shows self-fluorescence, which was used to determine CAC values of the Smoc-amino acids from fluorescence assays. Smoc fluorescence was also exploited in confocal microscopy imaging with fibroblast cells, which revealed its uptake into the cytoplasm. The biocompatibility of these Smoc-amino acids was found to be excellent with zero cytotoxicity (in fact increased metabolism) to fibroblasts at low concentration.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Interdisciplinary centres and themes > Chemical Analysis Facility (CAF)
Life Sciences > School of Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy > Department of Chemistry
ID Code:113843
Publisher:American Chemical Society


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