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Knight, Abigail

Abigail Knight

University of North Carolina

Talk Title

Self-Assembly of Peptide-Polymer Hybrid Materials

Presentation Time

Wednesday, June 28, 2023, at 11:30 am - 11:55 am

Composed of only twenty amino acids, proteins offer complex functions and impressive binding capabilities. Synthetic polymers offer an expansive monomer scope yielding tunable chemical and physical properties. Building on the strengths of both classes of macromolecules, we have designed several hybrid architectures.

We have leveraged small synthetic oligomers to control the assembly of peptides using peptide-polymer amphiphiles. The morphology and dynamics of the assembled nanomaterial can be tuned using properties of the synthetic tail. Complementarily, we have leveraged peptides as a pendent group on synthetic polymers to generate local rigidity analogous to secondary structure in synthetic random copolymers. As secondary structure is critical for protein function, this local rigidity impacts the function the synthetic polymer.

These efforts are motivated by both developing a deeper understanding of the impact of secondary structure on protein properties and developing functional scalable materials that can target global challenges in sustainability such as industrial separations and water purification.

The Knight group focuses on designing novel macromolecular materials with functions inspired by biological systems. These materials will generate platforms of new biomimetic polymeric architectures addressing growing concerns in treating, diagnosing, and preventing human disease.

This research bridges the fields of chemical biology and polymer chemistry using characterization and synthetic tools including polymer and solid-phase synthesis and nanomaterial characterization. Specific project areas include: 1 developing a new class of peptide-polymer amphiphiles inspired by metalloproteins, 2 designing well-defined polymer bioconjugates for biosensing, and 3 evolving functional biomimetic polymers.

Abigail Knight
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