Residue-Specific Solvation-Directed Thermodynamic and Kinetic Control over Peptide Self-Assembly with 1D/2D Structure Selection

Lin, Yiyang and Penna, Matthew and Thomas, Michael R and Wojciechowski, Jonathan P and Leonardo, Vincent and Wang, Ye and Pashuck, E Thomas and Yarovsky, Irene and Stevens, Molly M
ACS nano, 13(2): 1900-1909, 2019

Understanding the self-organization and structural transformations of molecular ensembles is important to explore the complexity of biological systems. Here, we illustrate the crucial role of cosolvents and solvation effects in thermodynamic and kinetic control over peptide association into ultrathin Janus nanosheets, elongated nanobelts, and amyloid-like fibrils. We gained further insight into the solvation-directed self-assembly (SDSA) by investigating residue-specific peptide solvation using molecular dynamics modeling. We proposed the preferential solvation of the aromatic and alkyl domains on the peptide backbone and protofibril surface, which results in volume exclusion effects and restricts the peptide association between hydrophobic walls. We explored the SDSA phenomenon in a library of cosolvents (protic and aprotic), where less polar cosolvents were found to exert a stronger influence on the energetic balance at play during peptide propagation. By tailoring cosolvent polarity, we were able to achieve precise control of the peptide nanostructures with 1D/2D shape selection. We also illustrated the complexity of the SDSA system with pathway-dependent peptide aggregation, where two self-assembly states (i.e., thermodynamic equilibrium state and kinetically trapped state) from different sample preparation methods were obtained.