Mimicking the Chemistry of Natural Eumelanin Synthesis: The KE Sequence in Polypeptides and in Proteins Allows for a Specific Control of Nanosized Functional Polydopamine Formation. Biomacromolecules 2018, 19 (9), 3693-3704.

The oxidation of dopamine and of other catecholamines leads to the formation of conformal films on the surface of all known materials and to the formation of a precipitate in solution. In some cases, it has been shown that the addition of additives in the dopamine solution, like certain surfactants or polymers, polyelectrolytes, and certain proteins, allows to get polydopamine nanoparticles of controlled size and the concomitant decrease, in an additive/dopamine dependent manner, in film formation on the surface of the reaction beaker. However, the mechanism behind this controlled oxidation and self-assembly of catecholamines is not known. In this article, it is shown that a specific diad of amino acids in proteins, namely KE, allows for specific control in the oxidation-self-assembly of dopamine to obtain polydopamine@protein core-shell nanoparticles which are biocompatible. The interactions between dopamine and the adjacent KE amino acids potentially responsible for the size control of polydopamine aggregates was investigated by molecular dynamics simulations. The obtained core-shell nanoparticles display the biological activity of the protein used to control the self-assembly of PDA. The photon to heat conversion ability of PDA is conserved in the PDA@protein particles.