Colloid and Polymer Science

, Volume 293, Issue 12, pp 3517–3526 | Cite as

pH-responsive double hydrophilic protein-polymer hybrids and their self-assembly in aqueous solution

  • Naipu HeEmail author
  • Zhenwu Lu
  • Weigang Zhao
Original Contribution


Double hydrophilic protein-polymer hybrids were successfully prepared by “grafting-to” method. Sodium polyacrylate (PANa) with an activated end group was prepared using acrylic acid as initial monomer by atom transfer radical polymerization (ATRP) in the water/DMF mixture at pH 7.8. Then, the activated end group of PANa directly covalently binds to the primary amino groups of the lysine of bovine serum albumin (BSA) in phosphate buffer solution (PBS) at pH 7.4. BSA-PANa hybrids were characterized by sodium dodecyl sulfate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) and matrix-associated laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectra (MALDI-ToF MS). UV-vis spectrometer, transmission electron microscopy (TEM), and dynamic light scatter (DLS) were used to study their self-assembly in PBS at different pH. The resulting BSA-PANa hybrids were pH-responsive. They were found to form spherical structures with narrow distribution in PBS at pH 7.4. In PBS at pH 2.5, fewer spherical particles with broad distribution were visible. Meanwhile, spherical particles had a very thin wall with thickness of 10 nm.

Graphical Abstract

The table of contents (ToC)

The resulting BSA-PANa hybrids were found to be pH-responsive. The self-assembly aggregates were found to form spherical structures with a diameter of approximately 100 nm phosphate buffer solution (PBS) at pH 7.4. In PBS at pH 2.5, the diameters of spherical particles varied between 80 and 200 nm. Meanwhile, spherical particles had a very thin wall with thickness of 10 nm.


pH-responsive polymer Double hydrophilic block copolymer Protein-polymer hybrids Self-assembly 



Protein-polymer hybrids


Acrylic acid


Poly(acrylic acid)


Sodium polyacrylate


Atom transfer radical polymerization


Bovine serum albumin


Sodium dodecyl sulfate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis


Matrix-associated laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectra


Transmission electron microscopy


Phosphate buffer solution


Dynamic light scatter



We gratefully acknowledge the National Natural Science Foundation of China (21164003) and Gansu Province Natural Science Foundation (1308RJZA137) for financial support.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Chemical and Biological EngineeringLanzhou Jiaotong UniversityLanzhouChina

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