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    Effects of polythiophene surface structure on adsorption and conformation of bovine serum albumin: a multivariate and multitechnique study.
    Langmuir 2014 Nov 11;30(46):13925-33. Epub 2014 Nov 11.
    M. Smoluchowski Institute of Physics, Jagiellonian University , Kraków, Poland.
    Protein interactions with surfaces of promising conducting polymers are critical for development of bioapplications. Surfaces of spin-cast and postbaked poly(3-alkylthiophenes), regiorandom P3BT, and regioregular RP3HT are examined prior to and after adsorption of model protein, bovine serum albumin, with time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry, atomic force microscopy, and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy. The multivariate method of principal component analysis applied to ToF-SIMS data maximizes information on subtle differences in surface chemistry: PCA reveals alkyl side chains and conjugated backbones, exposed for RP3HT and P3BT, respectively. Phase imaging AFM shows semicrystalline microstructure of RP3HT and amorphous morphology of P3BT films. A cellular-like pattern of proteins adsorbed on RP3HT develops with coverage to more uniform overlayer, observed always on P3BT. The amount of adsorbed protein, determined by XPS as a function of BSA concentration (up to 10 mg/mL), is ∼21% lower for RP3HT than P3BT (up to 1.1 mg/m(2)). Although PCA differentiates protein from polythiophene, relative protein surface composition evaluated from ToF-SIMS saturates rather than increases with amount of adsorbed BSA from XPS. This reflects ToF-SIMS sensitivity to outermost layer of proteins, enabling multivariate analysis of protein conformation or orientation. PCA distinguishes between amino acids characteristic for external regions of BSA adsorbed to P3BT and RP3HT. These amino acids are identified for P3BT and RP3HT as hydrophilic and hydrophobic, respectively, by relative hydrophobicity of amino acid side chains. Alternative identification with BSA domains fails, pointing to substrate-induced changes in conformation and degree of denaturation rather than orientation of adsorbed protein.

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