Ascertaining effects of nanoscale polymeric interfaces on competitive protein adsorption at the individual protein level†
With the recent development of biomaterials and biodevices with reduced dimensionality, it is critical to comprehend protein adhesion processes to nanoscale solid surfaces, especially those occurring in a competitive adsorption environment. Complex sequences of adhesion events in competitive adsorption involving multicomponent protein systems have been extensively investigated, but our understanding is still limited primarily to macroscopic adhesion onto chemically simple surfaces. We examine the competitive adsorption behavior from a binary protein mixture containing bovine serum albumin and fibrinogen at the single protein level. We subsequently evaluate a series of adsorption and displacement processes occurring on both the macroscopic homopolymer and nanoscopic diblock copolymer surfaces, while systematically varying the protein concentration and incubation time. We identify the similarities and dissimilarities in competitive protein adsorption behavior between the two polymeric surfaces, the former presenting chemical uniformity at macroscale versus the latter exhibiting periodic nanointerfaces of chemically alternating polymeric segments. We then present our novel experimental finding of a large increase in the nanointerface-engaged residence time of the initially bound proteins and further explain the origin of this phenomenon manifested on nanoscale diblock copolymer surfaces. The outcomes of this study may provide timely insight into nanoscale competitive protein adsorption that is much needed in designing bioimplant and tissue engineering materials. In addition, the fundamental understanding gained from this study can be beneficial for the development of highly miniaturized biodevices and biomaterials fabricated by using nanoscale polymeric materials and interfaces.