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Specular neutron reflectivity and the structure of artificial protein maquettes vectorially oriented at interfaces

Strzalka J, Gibney BR, Satija S, Blasie JK

70 (6): Art. No. 061905 Part 1, 9 DEC 2004
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Artificial peptides can be designed to possess a variety of functionalities. If these peptides can be ordered in an ensemble, the functionality can impart macroscopic material properties to the ensemble. Neutron reflectivity is shown to be an effective probe of the intramolecular structures of such peptides vectorially oriented at an interface, key to ensuring that the designed molecular structures translate into the desired material properties of the interface. A model-independent method is utilized to analyze the neutron reflectivity from an alkylated, di-alpha-helical peptide, containing perdeuterated leucine residues at one or two pre-selected positions, in mixed Langmuir monolayers with a phospholipid. The results presented here are more definitive than prior work employing x-ray reflectivity. They show explicitly that the di-helical peptide retains its designed alpha-helical secondary structure at the interface, when oriented perpendicular to the interface at high surface pressure, with the helices projecting into the aqueous subphase without penetrating the layer of phospholipid headgroups.

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