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Conjugated Polymers, Amyloid Detection and Assembly of Biomolecular Nanowires  PDF

Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary
Anna Herland
Publication Year
<p>The research field of conjugated polymers has grown due to the optical and electronic properties of the material, useful in applications such as solar cells and printed electronics, but also in biosensors and for interactions with biomolecules. In this thesis conjugated polymers have been used in two related topics; to detect conformational changes in proteins and to assemble the polymers with biomolecules into nanowires.</p><p>Within biosensing, conjugated polymers have been used for detection of a wide range of biological events, such as DNA hybridization or enzymatic activity, utilizing both electronic and optical changes in the polymer. Here the focus has been to use the polymers as optical probes to discriminate between native and misfolded protein, as well as to follow the misfolding processes in vitro. The understanding and detection of protein misfolding, for example amyloid fibril formation, is a topic of growing importance. The misfolding process is strongly associated with several devastating diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE). We have developed detection schemes for discrimination between proteins in the native or amyloid fibril state based on luminescent polythiophene derivatives. Through a synthesis strategy based on polymerization of trimer blocks rather than of monomers, polythiophene derivatives with higher optical signal specificity for amyloid-like fibrils were obtained.</p><p>Self-assembly of nanowires containing conjugated polymers is a route to generate structures of unique opto-electrical characteristics without the need for tedious topdown processes. Biomolecules can have nanowire geometries of extraordinary aspect ratio and functionalities. The DNA molecule is the most well known and exploited of these. In this thesis work the more stable amyloid fibril has been used as a template to organize conjugated polymers. Luminescent, semi-conducting, conjugated polymers have been incorporated in and assembled onto amyloid fibrils. Using luminescence quenching we have demonstrated that the conjugated material can retain the electro-activity after the incorporation process. Furthermore, the amyloid fibril/conjugated polymer hybrid structures can be organized on surfaces by the means of molecular combing and soft lithography.</p><p>In the process of generating self-assembled biomolecular nanowires functionalized with conjugated polymers, we have shown a new synthesis strategy for a water-soluble highly conducting polythiophene derivative. This material, PEDOT-S, has shown affinity for amyloid fibrils, but can also be very useful in conventional opto-electronic polymer-based devices.</p>