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Surface force measurements and simulations of mussel-derived peptide adhesives on wet organic surfaces.


Translating sticky biological molecules-such as mussel foot proteins (MFPs)-into synthetic, cost-effective underwater adhesives with adjustable nano- and macroscale characteristics requires an intimate understanding of the glue's molecular interactions. To help facilitate the next generation of aqueous adhesives, we performed a combination of surface forces apparatus (SFA) measurements and replica-exchange molecular dynamics (REMD) simulations on a synthetic, easy to prepare, Dopa-containing peptide (MFP-3s peptide), which adheres to organic surfaces just as effectively as its wild-type protein analog. Experiments and simulations both show significant differences in peptide adsorption on CH3-terminated (hydrophobic) and OH-terminated (hydrophilic) self-assembled monolayers (SAMs), where adsorption is strongest on hydrophobic SAMs because of orientationally specific interactions with Dopa. Additional umbrella-sampling simulations yield free-energy profiles that quantitatively agree with SFA measurements and are used to extract the adhesive properties of individual amino acids within the context of MFP-3s peptide adhesion, revealing a delicate balance between van der Waals, hydrophobic, and electrostatic forces.

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