Issue 11, 2022

Fluorescent homopolypeptide toroids


Toroids are important ring-like nanostructures in living systems; intrinsically luminogenic toroids are promising in bioimaging but it remains challenging to synthesize such nanoparticles. Herein, we report a fluorescent toroid that is self-assembled from the homopolypeptide poly(γ-benzyl-L-glutamate) (TPE-PBLG28, where TPE refers to the end-group tetraphenylethene and the subscript refers to the degree of polymerization). We found that both water content and temperature are crucial for the formation of toroids during self-assembly. The morphological evolution pathway goes from twisted nanoparticles to curved nanoparticles, and eventually, to toroids; this was analyzed by transmission electron microscopy (TEM), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), dynamic light scattering (DLS), etc. This new mechanism of end-to-end closure of twisted nanoparticles that leads to toroids offers new insight for preparing ring-like nanostructures, as it is different from the traditional ‘loop-and-wind’ route of high molecular weight PBLG. The fluorescent TPE end-group confers the final low cytotoxic toroids suitable for cell imaging. Overall, this work provides insight into a new mechanism for the formation of fluorescent polypeptide toroids.

Graphical abstract: Fluorescent homopolypeptide toroids

Supplementary files

Article information

Article type
23 Dec 2021
02 Feb 2022
First published
03 Feb 2022

Polym. Chem., 2022,13, 1495-1501

Fluorescent homopolypeptide toroids

L. Fan, J. Jiang, Q. Sun, K. Hong, E. J. Cornel, Y. Zhu and J. Du, Polym. Chem., 2022, 13, 1495 DOI: 10.1039/D1PY01691A

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