Chemically connected protein arrays have significant diverse applications including the production of red cell substitutes, bioconjugate drug delivery, and protein therapies. In order to make materials of defined structure, there is a need for efficient and accessible reagents. While chemical cross-linking with a multi-subunit protein can be achieved in high yield, connecting proteins to one another in a dendritic assembly along with concurrent cross-linking has met with limited success. This has now been overcome through the design and implementation of a readily prepared reagent with added reaction sites that compensate for competing hydrolysis. N,N′,N″-Tris[bis(sodium methyl phosphate)isophthalyl]-1,3,5-benzenetricarboxamide (1), a hexakis(methyl phosphate) isophthalyl trimesoyl tris-amide, was designed and synthesized in high yield in three stages from a reactive trimesoyl core. This material has three pairs of coplanar cross-linking reaction sites in a symmetrical array. The presence of three sets of sites greatly increases the probability that at least two sets will produce cross-links within hemoglobin tetramers (in competition with hydrolysis) and thereby connect two cross-linked tetramers at the same time. Reaction of 1 with deoxyhemoglobin at pH 8.5 gives a material that contains two cross-linked hemoglobin tetramers connected to one another and to a constituent αβ dimer. Products were characterized by SDS-PAGE, MS, enzyme digestion and HPLC. The isolated dendritic-hemoglobin with 2.5 tetrameric components has the same oxygen affinity as native hemoglobin (P50 = 5.0 torr) and retains cooperativity (n50 = 2.0). Analysis of circular dichroism spectra indicates that the assembly retains proper folding of the globin chains while the hemes are in an altered environment.
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