Staff Publications

Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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Record number 507255
Title Enhanced stiffness of silk-like fibers by loop formation in the corona leads to stronger gels
Author(s) Rombouts, Wolf H.; Domeradzka, Natalia E.; Werten, Marc W.T.; Leermakers, Frans A.M.; Vries, Renko J. de; Wolf, Frits A. de; Gucht, Jasper van der
Source Biopolymers (2016). - ISSN 0006-3525 - p. 795 - 801.
Department(s) Physical Chemistry and Soft Matter
FBR Bioconversion
Publication type Refereed Article in a scientific journal
Publication year 2016
Keyword(s) fibers - hydrogels - protein polymers - rheology - self-assembly

We study the self-assembly of protein polymers consisting of a silk-like block flanked by two hydrophilic blocks, with a cysteine residue attached to the C-terminal end. The silk blocks self-assemble to form fibers while the hydrophilic blocks form a stabilizing corona. Entanglement of the fibers leads to the formation of hydrogels. Under oxidizing conditions the cysteine residues form disulfide bridges, effectively connecting two corona chains at their ends to form a loop. We find that this leads to a significant increase in the elastic modulus of the gels. Using atomic force microscopy, we show that this stiffening is due to an increase of the persistence length of the fibers. Self-consistent-field calculations indicate a slight decrease of the lateral pressure in the corona upon loop formation. We argue that this small decrease in the repulsive interactions affects the stacking of the silk-like blocks in the core, resulting in a more rigid fiber.

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