Effect of double-tailed surfactant architecture on the conformation, self-assembly, and processing in polypeptide-surfactant complexes.
ABSTRACT This work describes the solid-state conformational and structural properties of self-assembled polypeptide-surfactant complexes with double-tailed surfactants. Poly(L-lysine) was complexed with three dialkyl esters of phosphoric acid (i.e., phosphodiester surfactants), where the surfactant tail branching and length was varied to tune the supramolecular architecture in a facile way. After complexation with the branched surfactant bis(2-ethylhexyl) phosphate in an aqueous solution, the polypeptide chains adopted an alpha-helical conformation. These rod-like helices self-assembled into cylindrical phases with the amorphous alkyl tails pointing outward. In complexes with dioctyl phosphate and didodecyl phosphate, which have two linear n-octyl or n-dodecyl tails, respectively, the polypeptide formed antiparallel beta-sheets separated by alkyl layers, resulting in well-ordered lamellar self-assemblies. By heating, it was possible to trigger a partial opening of the beta-sheets and disruption of the lamellar phase. After repeated heating/cooling, all of these complexes also showed a glass transition between 37 and 50 degrees C. Organic solvent treatment and plasticization by overstoichiometric amount of surfactant led to structure modification in poly(L-lysine)-dioctyl phosphate complexes, PLL(diC8)(x) (x = 1.0-3.0). Here, the alpha-helical PLL is surrounded by the surfactants and these bottle-brush-like chains self-assemble in a hexagonal cylindrical morphology. As x is increased, the materials are clearly plasticized and the degree of ordering is improved: The stiff alpha-helical backbones in a softened surfactant matrix give rise to thermotropic liquid-crystalline phases. The complexes were examined by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, small- and wide-angle X-ray scattering, transmission electron microscopy, differential scanning calorimetry, polarized optical microscopy, and circular dichroism.