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Issue 1, 2021

Using reactive dissipative particle dynamics to understand local shape manipulation of polymer vesicles

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Abstract

Biological cells have long been of interest to researchers due to their capacity to actively control their shape. Accordingly, there is significant interest in generating simplified synthetic protocells that can alter their shape based on an externally or internally generated stimulus. To date, most progress has been made towards controlling the global shape of a protocell, whereas less is known about generating a local shape change. Here, we seek to better understand the possible mechanisms for producing local morphological changes in a popular protocell system, the block copolymer vesicle. Accordingly, we have combined Dissipative Particle Dynamics (DPD) and the Split Reactive Brownian Dynamics algorithm (SRBD) to produce a simulation tool that is capable of modeling the dynamics of self-assembled polymer structures as they undergo chemical reactions. Using this Reactive DPD or RDPD method, we investigate local morphological change driven by either the microinjection of a stimulus or an enzymatically-produced stimulus. We find that sub-vesicle-scale morphological change can be induced by either a solvent stimulus that swells the vesicle membrane, or by a reactant stimulus that alters the chemistry of the block polymer in the membrane corona. Notably, the latter method results in a more persistent local deformation than the former, which we attribute to the slower diffusion of polymer chains relative to the solvent. We quantify this deformation and show that it can be modulated by altering the interaction parameter of the parts of the polymer chain that are affected by the stimulus.

Graphical abstract: Using reactive dissipative particle dynamics to understand local shape manipulation of polymer vesicles

Supplementary files

Article information


Submitted
14 Sep 2020
Accepted
23 Oct 2020
First published
28 Oct 2020

Soft Matter, 2021,17, 24-39
Article type
Paper

Using reactive dissipative particle dynamics to understand local shape manipulation of polymer vesicles

Q. Zhu, T. R. Scott and D. R. Tree, Soft Matter, 2021, 17, 24 DOI: 10.1039/D0SM01654C

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