Materials Science and Technology of Polymers

Stimulus Responsive Polymer Brushes for Enhanced Formation of Supported Bilayer Lipid Membranes


There is a growing need for functionalization strategies aimed to improve performance of platforms for pharmaceutical screening. Screening assays for membrane protein drug targets are especially of interest, as these proteins represent more than 50% of all drug targets. Currently, the compatibility of nanostructured supports with bilayer lipid membranes (BLM) where membrane proteins are embedded is a major drawback. The immobilization of these proteins in a functional state and the long-term stability of the supported membranes are important factors for a successful screening assay [1-2]. In addition, to selectively probe the functionality of membrane protein ion channels, it would be desirable to have platforms with controlled ion permeation.

Project description

The goal of this project is to develop polymeric structures for control of assembly of bilayer lipid membranes and ion permeation through nanoporous supports. Polymer brushes that respond to several stimuli (variations of temperature, pH, salt concentration, electric field) will be used to improve conditions for BLM formation and as nanopore switches as well [3-5]. The assembly and stability of the bilayer lipid membranes on the functionalized supports will be probed by various surface sensitive techniques.

This project is part of an EU-FP7 project entitled ASMENA (Functional Assays for membrane protein on nanostructured support). The ultimate goal is to develop functional nanostructured supports for membrane proteins to be used in pharmaceutical screening.

Schematic view




[1] E. Reimhult and K. Kumar, Membrane biosensor platforms using nano- and microporous supports, Trends in Biotechnology 26, 82-89, 2008.
[2] L. X. Tiefenauer and A. Studer, Nano for bio: nanopore arrays for stable and functional lipid bilayer membranes (mini review), Biointerphases 3, FA74-FA79, 2008.
[3] E. M. Benetti, E. Reimhult, J. de Bruin, S. Zapotoczny, M. Textor, and G. J. Vancso, Poly(methacrylic acid) grafts grown from designer surfaces: the effect of initiator coverage on polymerization kinetics, morphology, and properties, Macromolecules 42, 1640-1647, 2009.
[4] M. Peter, R. G. H. Lammertink, M. A. Hempenius, and G. J. Vancso, Electrochemistry of surface-grafted stimulus-responsive monolayers of poly(ferrocenyldimethylsilane) on gold, Langmuir 21, 5115-5123, 2005.
[5] R. Dong, S. Krishnan, B. A. Baird, M. Lindau, and C. K. Ober, Patterned biofunctional poly(acrylic acid) brushes on silicon surfaces, Biomacromolecules 8, 3082-3092, 2007.

Gabriella Santonicola
Location LA1723
Phone: +31-53-4894265