Mussels are masters of wet adhesion, employing very specialized proteins with unusual biochemical properties and amino acid compositions. The attachment organ of the mussel, the byssus, contains several proteins rich in 3,4-dihydroxy-L-alanine (DOPA), a catecholic amino acid that is believed to confer cohesive and adhesive properties to these proteins. In this talk I will discuss the role of DOPA in mussel adhesion, including model studies of catechol cross-linking and single molecule force spectroscopy measurements that shed light on the interfacial role of DOPA and other key amino acids found in these proteins. Our experiments provide insights into key mechanisms of biological adhesion, and also inform the design of synthetic mimics of these proteins. Examples of biomimetic materials include surgical adhesives and coatings for a variety of uses. Finally, I will briefly introduce our related work with polyphenols found in tea, chocolate, red wine and other foods and beverages. Plant polyphenols are chemically similar to DOPA due to an abundance of resorcinol, catechol, and gallol functional groups, and therefore can be exploited in similar ways as DOPA.
Phillip B. Messersmith is the Class of 1941 Professor in the Departments of Bioengineering and Materials Science and Engineering at UC-Berkeley. He earned his B.S. degree in life sciences from the University of Illinois at Urbana, M.S degree in bioengineering from Clemson University, and his Ph.D. degree in materials science and engineering the University of Illinois at Urbana. Dr. Messersmith was a postdoctoral fellow at Cornell University and a faculty member at the University of Illinois at Chicago Dental School, Northwestern University Dental School, and Northwestern UniversitySchool of Engineering prior to joining UC Berkeley. His awards and honors include a MERIT award from the National Institutes of Health, the Langmuir Lecture Award from the American Chemical Society, and the 2013 Clemson Award for Basic Research from the Society for Biomaterials. Dr. Messersmith is a fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, the Royal Society of Chemistry, and the International Union of Societies of Biomaterials Science and Engineering. He is co-Editor in Chief of the Royal Society of Chemistry journal Biomaterials Science, and is a member of the editorial/advisory boards of Soft Matter, Langmuir, Materials Horizons, Nanomedicine, Biointerphases, Biomedical Materials, and Bioinspired, Biomimetic and Nanobiomaterials.
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