Special Issue "Polyelectrolytes and Polyelectrolyte Complexes-in Memory of Prof. Paul Dubin"

A special issue of Polymers (ISSN 2073-4360).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (28 February 2019).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Renko De Vries
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Physical Chemistry and Soft Matter, Wageningen University, Stippeneng 4, 6708 WE, Wageningen, the Netherlands
Interests: complex coacervation; protein physical chemistry; protein design
Prof. Frans Leermakers
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Physical Chemistry and Soft Matter, Wageningen University, Stippeneng 4, 6708 WE, Wageningen, the Netherlands
Interests: self-consistent field theory; polymer adsorption; polymer self-assembly
Dr. Raymond Farinato
E-Mail
Guest Editor
Senior Research Fellow and Solvay Fellow, Solvay, 1937 W. Main St., Stamford CT 06906
Adjunct Prof., Department of Earth and Environmental Engineering, Columbia University
Interests: water soluble polymers, colloid chemistry, and adhesion science, with an emphasis on applications in the waste management, oilfield and mineral processing industries
Prof. Sarah L. Perry
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, MA 01003, USA
Interests: self-assembly, molecular design, biomimetic and bio inspired materials, polymer physics, microfluidic technologies
Dr. Ulrich Scheler
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Head of teh Department Polyelectrolytes and Dispersions, Leibniz-Institut für Polymerforschung Dresden e.V., D-01069 Dresden, Germany
Fax: +49 351 4658 231
Interests: structure, dynamics and charge in complex polymer and polyelectrolytes systems magnetic resonance (NMR & EPR) including methods developments
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue is dedicated to polyelectrolytes and polyelectrolyte complexes. Many water-soluble macromolecules of both biological and synthetic origin are polyelectrolytes, so systems with a high water content have traditionally been an important focus for this field. Lately, there has also been increasing interest in macromolecular materials with strong ionic interactions at the limit of little or no (aqueous) solvent, such as solid polyelectrolyte complexes, as well as in poly(ionic liquids) and new types of polyelectrolytes such as conjugated polyelectrolytes.

The aim of this Special Issue is to discuss the design, synthesis, and characterization of polyelectrolytes and polyelectrolyte complexes, the common denominator of which is the way that strong ionic interactions determine the final physical properties of the materials that they compose. Both research and review articles are welcome.

We wish to dedicate this Special Issue to the memory of the late Professor Paul Dubin. Throughout his career, Paul pursued a firm conviction that insights from the study of the physical chemistry of polyelectrolytes in solution and their interactions with a host of complexation partners would bring a much needed dimension to our comprehension of the workings of biological systems. For five decades he pursued, with a wide range of colleagues, a deeper understanding of polyelectrolytes and their complexing activities with surfactants, polymers and colloids. The high quality of his scientific work and his tireless efforts not only helped to develop the polyelectrolyte technical community, but also expanded its impact on adjacent fields. For this reason, this Special Issue of the journal Polymers is dedicated to his memory.

Dr. Renko De Vries
Prof. Frans Leermakers
Dr. Ulrich Scheler
Dr. Raymond Farinato
Prof. Sarah L. Perry
Guest Editors

Prof. Paul Dubin was an Editorial Board Member of Polymers. This Special Issue also acknowledges his dedication to the journal Polymers.

Polymers Editorial Office

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Polymers is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1500 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Polyelectrolytes
  • Polyelectrolyte complexes
  • Polyelectrolyte self-assembly
  • Theory and simulations of polyelectrolytes and polyelectrolyte complexes
  • Polyelectrolytes and polyelectrolyte complexes at interfaces
  • Complex coacervation
  • Poly(ionic liquids)
  • Conjugated polyelectrolytes
  • Biological polyelectrolytes and complexes of biological polyelectrolytes

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Published Papers (19 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Effects of Chain Length of Chitosan Oligosaccharides on Solution Properties and Complexation with siRNA
Polymers 2019, 11(8), 1236; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym11081236 - 25 Jul 2019
Abstract
In the context of gene delivery, chitosan has been widely used as a safe and effective polycation to complex DNA, RNA and more recently, siRNA. However, much less attention has been paid to chitosan oligosaccharides (COS) despite their biological properties. This study proposed [...] Read more.
In the context of gene delivery, chitosan has been widely used as a safe and effective polycation to complex DNA, RNA and more recently, siRNA. However, much less attention has been paid to chitosan oligosaccharides (COS) despite their biological properties. This study proposed to carry out a physicochemical study of COS varying in degree of polymerization (DP) from 5 to 50, both from the point of view of the solution properties and the complexing behavior with siRNA. The main parameters studied as a function of DP were the apparent pKa, the solubility versus pH, the binding affinity with siRNA and the colloidal properties of complexes. Some parameters, like the pKa or the binding enthalpy with siRNA, showed a marked transition from DP 5 to DP 13, suggesting that electrostatic properties of COS vary considerably in this range of DP. The colloidal properties of siRNA/COS complexes were affected in a different way by the COS chain length. In particular, COS of relatively high DP (≥50) were required to form small complex particles with good stability. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Structure and Rheology of Polyelectrolyte Complexes in the Presence of a Hydrogen-Bonded Co-Solvent
Polymers 2019, 11(6), 1053; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym11061053 - 17 Jun 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
Intermolecular interactions as well as macromolecular conformation affect the rheological and microstructural properties of polyelectrolyte complexes (PECs) solutions. The properties of semi-dilute solutions of weakly charged PECs can be controlled by the degree of ionization and solvent composition. In this work, we examined [...] Read more.
Intermolecular interactions as well as macromolecular conformation affect the rheological and microstructural properties of polyelectrolyte complexes (PECs) solutions. The properties of semi-dilute solutions of weakly charged PECs can be controlled by the degree of ionization and solvent composition. In this work, we examined the effect of ethanol as a co-solvent on PECs composed of poly(allylamine hydrochloride) (PAH) and poly(acrylic acid) (PAA) at low pH. The aqueous PECs solution was turbid, indicating formation of large aggregates, whereas PECs solution in water/ethanol (60:40 w/w) was transparent, implying no aggregation, and demonstrated higher relative viscosity than the aqueous solution, implying pronounced network formation. Imaging PECs solution by transmission electron microscopy (TEM) demonstrated aggregation, whereas the solution prepared with the mixed solvent revealed almost no phase contrast. Small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) of PECs in the aqueous solution indicated the presence of aggregates, while PECs in mixed solvent demonstrated a swelled macromolecular conformation with diminished aggregation. PECs with no ionic interactions in the mixed solvent assumes a homogenous network structure, which enables PECs solution processing by electrospinning. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Upper Critical Solution Temperature (UCST) Behavior of Coacervate of Cationic Protamine and Multivalent Anions
Polymers 2019, 11(4), 691; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym11040691 - 16 Apr 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Complex coacervation is an emerging liquid/liquid phase separation (LLPS) phenomenon that behaves as a membrane-less organelle in living cells. Yet while one of the critical factors for complex coacervation is temperature, little analysis and research has been devoted to the temperature effect on [...] Read more.
Complex coacervation is an emerging liquid/liquid phase separation (LLPS) phenomenon that behaves as a membrane-less organelle in living cells. Yet while one of the critical factors for complex coacervation is temperature, little analysis and research has been devoted to the temperature effect on complex coacervation. Here, we performed a complex coacervation of cationic protamine and multivalent anions (citrate and tripolyphosphate (TPP)). Both mixtures (i.e., protamine/citrate and protamine/TPP) underwent coacervation in an aqueous solution, while a mixture of protamine and sodium chloride did not. Interestingly, the complex coacervation of protamine and multivalent anions showed upper critical solution temperature (UCST) behavior, and the coacervation of protamine and multivalent anions was reversible with solution temperature changes. The large asymmetry in molecular weight between positively charged protamine (~4 kDa) and the multivalent anions (<0.4 kDa) and strong electrostatic interactions between positively charged guanidine residues in protamine and multivalent anions were likely to contribute to UCST behavior in this coacervation system. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Aqueous Liquid-Liquid Phase Separation of Natural and Synthetic Polyguanidiniums
Polymers 2019, 11(4), 649; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym11040649 - 09 Apr 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Protamines are natural polyguanidiniums, arginine(R)-rich proteins involved in the compaction of chromatin during vertebrate spermatogenesis. Salmine, a protamine isolated from salmon sperm, contains 65 mol% R residues, with positively charged guanidino (Gdm+) sidechains, and no other amino acids with ionizable or [...] Read more.
Protamines are natural polyguanidiniums, arginine(R)-rich proteins involved in the compaction of chromatin during vertebrate spermatogenesis. Salmine, a protamine isolated from salmon sperm, contains 65 mol% R residues, with positively charged guanidino (Gdm+) sidechains, and no other amino acids with ionizable or aromatic sidechains. Salmine sulfate solutions undergo liquid-liquid phase separation (LLPS) with a concentration-dependent upper critical solution temperature (UCST). The condensed liquid phase comprises 50 wt % water and >600 mg·mL−1 salmine with a constant 1:2 ratio of sulfate (SO42−) to Gdm+. Isothermal titration calorimetry, titrating Na2SO4 into salmine chloride above and below the UCST, allowed isolation of exothermic sulfate binding to salmine chloride from subsequent endothermic condensation and exothermic phase separation events. Synthetic random polyacrylate analogs of salmine, with 3-guanidinopropyl sidechains, displayed similar counterion dependent phase behavior, demonstrating that the LLPS of polyguanidiniums does not depend upon subunit sequence or polymer backbone chirality, and was due entirely to Gdm+ sidechain interactions. The results provide experimental evidence for like-charge pairing of Gdm+ sidechains, and an experimental approach for further characterizing these interactions. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Gelatin Films Modified with Acidic and Polyelectrolyte Polymers—Material Selection for Soft Gastroresistant Capsules
Polymers 2019, 11(2), 338; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym11020338 - 15 Feb 2019
Abstract
The following investigation comprised the formation of acid-resistant gelatin-based films, intended for future use in soft-capsule technology. Such film compositions were obtained by including nonionized forms of acid-insoluble polymers in a gelatin-based film-forming mixture. The selected films were additionally modified with small amounts [...] Read more.
The following investigation comprised the formation of acid-resistant gelatin-based films, intended for future use in soft-capsule technology. Such film compositions were obtained by including nonionized forms of acid-insoluble polymers in a gelatin-based film-forming mixture. The selected films were additionally modified with small amounts of anionic polysaccharides that have potential to interact with gelatin, forming polyelectrolyte complexes. The obtained film compositions were subjected to, e.g., disintegration tests, adhesiveness tests, differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), and a transparency study. As a result of the performed study, some commercial enteric polymers (acrylates), as well as cellulose acetate phthalate, were selected as components that have the ability to coalesce and form a continuous phase within a gelatin film. The use of a small amount (1.5%) of additional gelling polymers improved the rheological characteristics and adhesive properties of the obtained films, with ί-carrageenan and gellan gum appearing to be the most beneficial. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Upper Critical Solution Temperature (UCST) Behavior of Polystyrene-Based Polyampholytes in Aqueous Solution
Polymers 2019, 11(2), 265; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym11020265 - 04 Feb 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Strong polyampholytes comprising cationic vinylbenzyl trimethylammonium chloride (VBTAC) bearing a pendant quaternary ammonium group and anionic sodium p-styrenesulfonate (NaSS) bearing a pendant sulfonate group were prepared via reversible addition-fragmentation chain-transfer polymerization. The resultant polymers are labelled P(VBTAC/NaSS)n, where n indicates [...] Read more.
Strong polyampholytes comprising cationic vinylbenzyl trimethylammonium chloride (VBTAC) bearing a pendant quaternary ammonium group and anionic sodium p-styrenesulfonate (NaSS) bearing a pendant sulfonate group were prepared via reversible addition-fragmentation chain-transfer polymerization. The resultant polymers are labelled P(VBTAC/NaSS)n, where n indicates the degree of polymerization (n = 20 or 97). The percentage VBTAC content in P(VBTAC/NaSS)n is always about 50 mol%, as revealed by 1H NMR measurements, meaning that P(VBTAC/NaSS)n is a close to stoichiometrically charge-neutralized polymer. Although P(VBTAC/NaSS)n cannot dissolve in pure water at room temperature, the addition of NaCl or heating solubilizes the polymers. Furthermore, P(VBTAC/NaSS)n exhibits upper critical solution temperature (UCST) behavior in aqueous NaCl solutions. The UCST is shifted to higher temperatures by increasing the polymer concentration and molecular weight, and by decreasing the NaCl concentration. The UCST behavior was measured ranging the polymer concentrations from 0.5 to 5.0 g/L. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Layer-by-Layer Assembly and Electrochemical Study of Alizarin Red S-Based Thin Films
Polymers 2019, 11(1), 165; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym11010165 - 18 Jan 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
Electroactive organic dyes incorporated in layer-by-layer (LbL) assemblies are of great interest for a variety of applications. In this paper, Alizarin Red S (ARS), an electroactive anthraquinone dye, is employed to construct LbL (BPEI/ARS)n films with branched poly(ethylene imine) (BPEI) as the [...] Read more.
Electroactive organic dyes incorporated in layer-by-layer (LbL) assemblies are of great interest for a variety of applications. In this paper, Alizarin Red S (ARS), an electroactive anthraquinone dye, is employed to construct LbL (BPEI/ARS)n films with branched poly(ethylene imine) (BPEI) as the complementary polymer. Unconventional LbL methods, including co-adsorption of ARS and poly(4-styrene sulfonate) (PSS) with BPEI to assemble (BPEI/(ARS+PSS))n, as well as pre-complexation of ARS with BPEI and further assembly with PSS to fabricate ((BPEI+ARS)/PSS)n, are designed for investigation and comparison. Film growth patterns, UV–Vis spectra and surface morphology of the three types of LbL assemblies are measured and compared to reveal the formation mechanism of the LbL films. Electrochemical properties including cyclic voltammetry and spectroelectrochemistry of (BPEI/ARS)120, (BPEI/(ARS+PSS))120 and ((BPEI+ARS)/PSS)120 films are studied, and the results show a slight color change due to the redox reaction of ARS. ((BPEI+ARS)/PSS)120 shows the best stability among the three samples. It is concluded that the manner of dye- incorporation has a great effect on the electrochemical properties of the resultant films. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Polyelectrolyte Complexation of Oligonucleotides by Charged Hydrophobic—Neutral Hydrophilic Block Copolymers
Polymers 2019, 11(1), 83; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym11010083 - 07 Jan 2019
Cited by 6
Abstract
Polyelectrolyte complex micelles (PCMs, core-shell nanoparticles formed by complexation of a polyelectrolyte with a polyelectrolyte-hydrophilic neutral block copolymer) offer a solution to the critical problem of delivering therapeutic nucleic acids, Despite this, few systematic studies have been conducted on how parameters such as [...] Read more.
Polyelectrolyte complex micelles (PCMs, core-shell nanoparticles formed by complexation of a polyelectrolyte with a polyelectrolyte-hydrophilic neutral block copolymer) offer a solution to the critical problem of delivering therapeutic nucleic acids, Despite this, few systematic studies have been conducted on how parameters such as polycation charge density, hydrophobicity, and choice of charged group influence PCM properties, despite evidence that these strongly influence the complexation behavior of polyelectrolyte homopolymers. In this article, we report a comparison of oligonucleotide PCMs and polyelectrolyte complexes formed by poly(lysine) and poly((vinylbenzyl) trimethylammonium) (PVBTMA), a styrenic polycation with comparatively higher charge density, increased hydrophobicity, and a permanent positive charge. All of these differences have been individually suggested to provide increased complex stability, but we find that PVBTMA in fact complexes oligonucleotides more weakly than does poly(lysine), as measured by stability versus added salt. Using small angle X-ray scattering and electron microscopy, we find that PCMs formed from both cationic blocks exhibit very similar structure-property relationships, with PCM radius determined by the cationic block size and shape controlled by the hybridization state of the oligonucleotides. These observations narrow the design space for optimizing therapeutic PCMs and provide new insights into the rich polymer physics of polyelectrolyte self-assembly. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Separation and Characterization of Highly Charged Polyelectrolytes Using Free-Solution Capillary Electrophoresis
Polymers 2018, 10(12), 1331; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym10121331 - 02 Dec 2018
Abstract
The characterization of statistical copolymers of various charge densities remains an important and challenging analytical issue. Indeed, the polyelectrolyte (PE) effective electrophoretic mobility tends to level off above a certain charge density, due to the occurrence of Manning counterion condensation. Surprisingly, we demonstrate [...] Read more.
The characterization of statistical copolymers of various charge densities remains an important and challenging analytical issue. Indeed, the polyelectrolyte (PE) effective electrophoretic mobility tends to level off above a certain charge density, due to the occurrence of Manning counterion condensation. Surprisingly, we demonstrate in this work that it is possible to get highly resolutive separations of charged PE using free-solution capillary electrophoresis, even above the critical value predicted by the Manning counterion condensation theory. Full separation of nine statistical poly(acrylamide-co-2-acrylamido-2-methylpropanesulfonate) polymers of different charge densities varying between 3% and 100% was obtained by adjusting the ionic strength of the background electrolyte (BGE) in counter electroosmotic mode. Distributions of the chemical charge density could be obtained for the nine PE samples, showing a strong asymmetry of the distribution for the highest-charged PE. This asymmetry can be explained by the different reactivity ratios during the copolymerization. To shed more light on the separation mechanism, effective and apparent selectivities were determined by a systematic study and modeling of the electrophoretic mobility dependence according to the ionic strength. It is demonstrated that the increase in resolution with increasing BGE ionic strength is not only due to a closer matching of the electroosmotic flow magnitude with the PE electrophoretic effective mobility, but also to an increase of the dependence of the PE effective mobility according to the charge density. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Switchable Release of Bone Morphogenetic Protein from Thermoresponsive Poly(NIPAM-co-DMAEMA)/Cellulose Sulfate Particle Coatings
Polymers 2018, 10(12), 1314; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym10121314 - 27 Nov 2018
Cited by 2
Abstract
Thermoresponsive coatings of poly(N-isopropylacrylamide-co-DMAEMA)/cellulose sulfate (PNIPAM-DMAEMA/CS) complexes are reported eluting bone-morphogenetic-protein-2 (BMP-2) on demand relevant for implant assisted local bone healing. PNIPAM-DMAEMA/CS dispersions contained colloid particles with hydrodynamic radii RH = 170–288 nm at T = 25 °C [...] Read more.
Thermoresponsive coatings of poly(N-isopropylacrylamide-co-DMAEMA)/cellulose sulfate (PNIPAM-DMAEMA/CS) complexes are reported eluting bone-morphogenetic-protein-2 (BMP-2) on demand relevant for implant assisted local bone healing. PNIPAM-DMAEMA/CS dispersions contained colloid particles with hydrodynamic radii RH = 170–288 nm at T = 25 °C shrinking to RH = 74–103 nm at T = 60 °C. Obviously, PNIPAM-DMAEMA/CS undergoes volume phase transition (VPT) analogously to pure PNIPAM, when critical VPT temperature (VPTT) is exceeded. Temperature dependent turbidity measurements revealed broad VPT and VPTT 47 °C for PNIPAM-DMAEMA/CS colloid dispersions at pH = 7.0. FTIR spectroscopy on thermoresponsive PNIPAM-DMAEMA/CS particle coatings at germanium model substrates under HEPES buffer indicated both wet-adhesiveness and VPT behavior based on diagnostic band intensity increases with temperature. From respective temperature courses empirical VPTT ≈ 42 °C for PNIPAM-DMAEMA/CS coatings at pH = 7.0 were found, which were comparable to VPTT found for respective dispersions. Finally, the PNIPAM-DMAEMA/CS coatings were loaded with BMP-2 and model protein papain (PAP). Time dependent FTIR spectroscopic measurements showed, that for T = 37 °C there was a relative protein release of ≈30% for PAP and ≈10% for BMP-2 after 24 h, which did not increase further. Heating to T = 42 °C for PAP and to 47 °C for BMP-2 further secondary protein release of ≈20% after 24 h was found, respectively, interesting for clinical applications. BMP-2 eluted even at 47 °C was found to be still biologically active. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Effect of the Surface Hydrophobicity Degree on the In Vitro Release of Polar and Non-Polar Drugs from Polyelectrolyte Matrix Tablets
Polymers 2018, 10(12), 1313; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym10121313 - 27 Nov 2018
Abstract
This work is the continuation of a series of studies focused on establishing the relationship between the surface thermodynamic properties of polyelectrolyte matrix tablets and drug release mechanisms. In this case, two model drugs with different polarity features, such as carbamazepine (non-polar) and [...] Read more.
This work is the continuation of a series of studies focused on establishing the relationship between the surface thermodynamic properties of polyelectrolyte matrix tablets and drug release mechanisms. In this case, two model drugs with different polarity features, such as carbamazepine (non-polar) and metoprolol succinate (polar) were used in combination with polymeric material hydroxypropyl-methyl cellulose (HPMC) and two polyelectrolytes derived from maleic anhydride corresponding to the sodium salts of poly(maleic acid-alt-ethylene) and poly(maleic acid-alt-octadecene) named PAM-0Na and PAM-18Na, respectively. The polymers were obtained and characterized as reported previously. Surface studies were performed by the sessile drop method, whilst the surface free energy was determined through Owens, Wendt, Rable and Kaeble (OWRK) semi-empirical model. By contrast, the drug release studies were performed by in vitro dissolution tests, where data were analyzed through dissolution efficiency. The results showed that, depending on the drug polarity, type and polymer proportion, surface properties and drug release processes are significantly affected. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Design of Oligonucleotide Carriers: Importance of Polyamine Chain Length
Polymers 2018, 10(12), 1297; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym10121297 - 23 Nov 2018
Cited by 1
Abstract
Amine containing polymers are extensively studied as special carriers for short-chain RNA (13–25 nucleotides), which are applied as gene silencing agents in gene therapy of various diseases including cancer. Elaboration of the oligonucleotide carriers requires knowledge about peculiarities of the oligonucleotide–polymeric amine interaction. [...] Read more.
Amine containing polymers are extensively studied as special carriers for short-chain RNA (13–25 nucleotides), which are applied as gene silencing agents in gene therapy of various diseases including cancer. Elaboration of the oligonucleotide carriers requires knowledge about peculiarities of the oligonucleotide–polymeric amine interaction. The critical length of the interacting chains is an important parameter which allows us to design sophisticated constructions containing oligonucleotide binding segments, solubilizing, protective and aiming parts. We studied interactions of (TCAG)n, n = 1–6 DNA oligonucleotides with polyethylenimine and poly(N-(3-((3-(dimethylamino)propyl)(methyl)amino)propyl)-N-methylacrylamide). The critical length for oligonucleotides in interaction with polymeric amines is 8–12 units and complexation at these length can be accompanied by “all-or-nothing” effects. New dimethylacrylamide based polymers with grafted polyamine chains were obtained and studied in complexation with DNA and RNA oligonucleotides. The most effective interaction and transfection activity into A549 cancer cells and silencing efficiency against vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) was found for a sample with average number of nitrogens in polyamine chain equal to 27, i.e., for a sample in which all grafted chains are longer than the critical length for polymeric amine–oligonucleotide complexation. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Conformation Study of Dual Stimuli-Responsive Core-Shell Diblock Polymer Brushes
Polymers 2018, 10(10), 1084; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym10101084 - 30 Sep 2018
Abstract
Stimuli-responsive nanoparticles are among the most popular research topics. In this study, two types of core-shell (polystyrene with a photoiniferter (PSV) as the core and diblock as the shell) polymer brushes ([email protected]b-PAA and [email protected]b-PNIPA) were designed and prepared using [...] Read more.
Stimuli-responsive nanoparticles are among the most popular research topics. In this study, two types of core-shell (polystyrene with a photoiniferter (PSV) as the core and diblock as the shell) polymer brushes ([email protected]b-PAA and [email protected]b-PNIPA) were designed and prepared using surface-initiated photoiniferter-mediated polymerization (SI-PIMP). Moreover, their pH- and temperature-stimuli responses were explored by dynamic light scattering (DLS) and turbidimeter under various conditions. The results showed that the conformational change was determined on the basis of the competition among electrostatic repulsion, hydrophobic interaction, hydrogen bonding, and steric hindrance, which was also confirmed by protein adsorption experiments. These results are not only helpful for the design and synthesis of stimuli-responsive polymer brushes but also shed light on controlled protein immobilization under mild conditions. Full article
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Protein–Polyelectrolyte Complexes and Micellar Assemblies
Polymers 2019, 11(7), 1097; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym11071097 - 28 Jun 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
In this review, we highlight the recent progress in our understanding of the structure, properties and applications of protein–polyelectrolyte complexes in both bulk and micellar assemblies. Protein–polyelectrolyte complexes form the basis of the genetic code, enable facile protein purification, and have emerged as [...] Read more.
In this review, we highlight the recent progress in our understanding of the structure, properties and applications of protein–polyelectrolyte complexes in both bulk and micellar assemblies. Protein–polyelectrolyte complexes form the basis of the genetic code, enable facile protein purification, and have emerged as enterprising candidates for simulating protocellular environments and as efficient enzymatic bioreactors. Such complexes undergo self-assembly in bulk due to a combined influence of electrostatic interactions and entropy gains from counterion release. Diversifying the self-assembly by incorporation of block polyelectrolytes has further enabled fabrication of protein–polyelectrolyte complex micelles that are multifunctional carriers for therapeutic targeted delivery of proteins such as enzymes and antibodies. We discuss research efforts focused on the structure, properties and applications of protein–polyelectrolyte complexes in both bulk and micellar assemblies, along with the influences of amphoteric nature of proteins accompanying patchy distribution of charges leading to unique phenomena including multiple complexation windows and complexation on the wrong side of the isoelectric point. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Intrinsic Disorder-Based Emergence in Cellular Biology: Physiological and Pathological Liquid-Liquid Phase Transitions in Cells
Polymers 2019, 11(6), 990; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym11060990 - 04 Jun 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
The visible outcome of liquid-liquid phase transitions (LLPTs) in cells is the formation and disintegration of various proteinaceous membrane-less organelles (PMLOs). Although LLPTs and related PMLOs have been observed in living cells for over 200 years, the physiological functions of these transitions (also [...] Read more.
The visible outcome of liquid-liquid phase transitions (LLPTs) in cells is the formation and disintegration of various proteinaceous membrane-less organelles (PMLOs). Although LLPTs and related PMLOs have been observed in living cells for over 200 years, the physiological functions of these transitions (also known as liquid-liquid phase separation, LLPS) are just starting to be understood. While unveiling the functionality of these transitions is important, they have come into light more recently due to the association of abnormal LLPTs with various pathological conditions. In fact, several maladies, such as various cancers, different neurodegenerative diseases, and cardiovascular diseases, are known to be associated with either aberrant LLPTs or some pathological transformations within the resultant PMLOs. Here, we will highlight both the physiological functions of cellular liquid-liquid phase transitions as well as the pathological consequences produced through both dysregulated biogenesis of PMLOs and the loss of their dynamics. We will also discuss the potential downstream toxic effects of proteins that are involved in pathological formations. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Macro- and Microphase Separated Protein-Polyelectrolyte Complexes: Design Parameters and Current Progress
Polymers 2019, 11(4), 578; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym11040578 - 29 Mar 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
Protein-containing polyelectrolyte complexes (PECs) are a diverse class of materials, composed of two or more oppositely charged polyelectrolytes that condense and phase separate near overall charge neutrality. Such phase-separation can take on a variety of morphologies from macrophase separated liquid condensates, to solid [...] Read more.
Protein-containing polyelectrolyte complexes (PECs) are a diverse class of materials, composed of two or more oppositely charged polyelectrolytes that condense and phase separate near overall charge neutrality. Such phase-separation can take on a variety of morphologies from macrophase separated liquid condensates, to solid precipitates, to monodispersed spherical micelles. In this review, we present an overview of recent advances in protein-containing PECs, with an overall goal of defining relevant design parameters for macro- and microphase separated PECs. For both classes of PECs, the influence of protein characteristics, such as surface charge and patchiness, co-polyelectrolyte characteristics, such as charge density and structure, and overall solution characteristics, such as salt concentration and pH, are considered. After overall design features are established, potential applications in food processing, biosensing, drug delivery, and protein purification are discussed and recent characterization techniques for protein-containing PECs are highlighted. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Protein–Polyelectrolyte Interaction: Thermodynamic Analysis Based on the Titration Method
Polymers 2019, 11(1), 82; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym11010082 - 07 Jan 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
This review discussed the mechanisms including theories and binding stages concerning the protein–polyelectrolyte (PE) interaction, as well as the applications for both complexation and coacervation states of protein–PE pairs. In particular, this review focused on the applications of titration techniques, that is, turbidimetric [...] Read more.
This review discussed the mechanisms including theories and binding stages concerning the protein–polyelectrolyte (PE) interaction, as well as the applications for both complexation and coacervation states of protein–PE pairs. In particular, this review focused on the applications of titration techniques, that is, turbidimetric titration and isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC), in understanding the protein–PE binding process. To be specific, by providing thermodynamic information such as pHc, pHφ, binding constant, entropy, and enthalpy change, titration techniques could shed light on the binding affinity, binding stoichiometry, and driving force of the protein–PE interaction, which significantly guide the applications by utilization of these interactions. Recent reports concerning interactions between proteins and different types of polyelectrolytes, that is, linear polyelectrolytes and polyelectrolyte modified nanoparticles, are summarized with their binding differences systematically discussed and compared based on the two major titration techniques. We believe this short review could provide valuable insight in the understanding of the structure–property relationship and the design of applied biomedical PE-based systems with optimal performance. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Intermolecular Interactions in Polyelectrolyte and Surfactant Complexes in Solution
Polymers 2019, 11(1), 51; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym11010051 - 31 Dec 2018
Cited by 8
Abstract
Polyelectrolytes are an important class of polymeric materials and are increasingly used in complex industrial formulations. A core use of these materials is in mixtures with surfactants, where a combination of hydrophobic and electrostatic interactions drives unique solution behavior and structure formation. In [...] Read more.
Polyelectrolytes are an important class of polymeric materials and are increasingly used in complex industrial formulations. A core use of these materials is in mixtures with surfactants, where a combination of hydrophobic and electrostatic interactions drives unique solution behavior and structure formation. In this review, we apply a molecular level perspective to the broad literature on polyelectrolyte-surfactant complexes, discussing explicitly the hydrophobic and electrostatic interaction contributions to polyelectrolyte surfactant complexes (PESCs), as well as the interplay between the two molecular interaction types. These interactions are sensitive to a variety of solution conditions, such as pH, ionic strength, mixing procedure, charge density, etc. and these parameters can readily be used to control the concentration at which structures form as well as the type of structure in the bulk solution. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Exploring Structure–Property Relationships of GAGs to Tailor ECM-Mimicking Hydrogels
Polymers 2018, 10(12), 1376; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym10121376 - 11 Dec 2018
Abstract
Glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) are a class of linear polysaccharides that are ubiquitous in the extracellular matrix (ECM) and on cell surfaces. Due to their key role in development, homeostasis, pathogenesis, and regeneration, GAGs are increasingly used in the design of ECM-mimicking hydrogels to stimulate [...] Read more.
Glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) are a class of linear polysaccharides that are ubiquitous in the extracellular matrix (ECM) and on cell surfaces. Due to their key role in development, homeostasis, pathogenesis, and regeneration, GAGs are increasingly used in the design of ECM-mimicking hydrogels to stimulate tissue formation and regenerative processes via specifically orchestrated cell-instructive signals. These applications first and foremost build on the ability of GAGs to effectively bind, protect, and release morphogens. The specificity and strength of morphogen-GAG interactions are largely governed by the number and spatial distribution of negatively charged sulfate groups carried by GAGs. Herein, we summarize a mean-field approach to quantify the density of ionizable groups, GAG concentration, and cross-linking degree of GAG-containing hydrogels on the basis of microslit electrokinetic experiments. We further present and discuss a continuum model of mucosa that accounts for charge regulation by glycan-ion pairing in biological contexts and under conditions of macromolecular crowding. Finally, we discuss the modulation of the morphogen binding and transport in GAG hydrogels by selective desulfation of the GAG component. Full article
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