Publication: Binding of bacteria to poly (N-isopropylacrylamide) modified with vancomycin: Comparison of behavior of linear and highly branched polymers

ACS Biomacromolecules has just announced the upcoming publication of our latest piece of research, a collaboration between Thomas Swift, Stephen Rimmer and Richard Hoskins from University of Bradford and Joey Shepherd, Pavintorn Teratanatorn, Ian Douglas and Sheila MacNeil from the University of Sheffield. This paper, available now from the Biomacromolecules website, shows our latest work in disclosing bacteria/polymer binding and further development towards a colorimetric sensor.

The behavior of a linear copolymer of N-isopropyl acrylamide with pendant vancomycin functionality was compared to an analogous highly branched copolymer with vancomycin functionality at the chain ends. Highly branched poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) modified with vancomycin (HB-PNIPAM-van) was synthesized by functionalization of the HB-PNIPAM, prepared using reversible addition-fragmentation chain transfer polymerization. Linear PNIPAM with pendant vancomycin functionality (L-PNIPAM-van) was synthesized by functionalization of poly(N-isopropyl acrylamide-co-vinyl benzoic acid). HB-PNIPAM-van aggregated S. aureus effectively whereas the L-PNIPAM-van polymer did not. It was found that when the HB-PNIPAM-van was incubated with S. aureus the resultant phase transition provided an increase in the intensity of fluorescence of a solvatochromic dye, nile red, added to the system. In contrast, a significantly lower increase in fluorescence intensity was obtained when L-PNIPAM-van was incubated with S. aureus. These data showed that the degree of desolvation of HB-PNIPAM-van was much greater than the desolvation of the linear version. Using microCalorimetry it was shown that there were no significant differences in the affinities of the polymer ligands for D-Ala-D-Ala and therefore differences in the interactions with bacteria were associated with changes in the probability of access of the polymer bound ligands to the D-Ala-D-Ala dipeptide. The data support the hypothesis that generation of polymer systems that respond to cellular targets, for applications such as cell targeting, detection of pathogens etc., requires the use of branched polymers with ligands situated at the chain ends.