Event Title

Small Molecule Interactions with Synthetic Melanin: Novel Modulators and Dye Capture

Presenter Information

Maryam Ghazala, Oberlin College

Location

Virtual presentation

Document Type

Presentation

Start Date

4-27-2020 8:00 AM

End Date

5-2-2020 5:00 PM

Abstract

Melanins are complex biological pigments that are present in many organisms. Eumelanin, which is the brown-to-black pigment, and its analog, polydopamine, form spontaneously upon oxidation of L-dopa and dopamine, respectively. The polymer formed via this process self-assembles and aggregates, resulting in particles that grow larger over time and form complex, high-mass structures that are visible to the human eye. While synthetic melanins were found to have numerous biomedical, technological, and other applications, the process of their formation remains poorly understood. This research uses the optical properties of melanin to study the aggregation step of its formation by UV-Vis spectroscopy and the addition of small organic molecules. Scanning a large library of compounds allowed for the structural characterization of aggregation promoters. Molecules resembling melanin monomers were synthetically modified to have similar structural characteristics and, upon testing, were found to greatly enhance aggregation. The nature of the interactions between small molecules and melanin was investigated using dyes and UV-Vis spectroscopy. Dyes with similar structural properties as aggregation promoters were captured by melanin, suggesting that aggregation promoters become incorporated into the melanin particles as they form, uncovering information on the aggregation process of these biopolymers. Furthermore, these results show the potential use of melanin in capturing organic pollutants for water purification purposes.

Keywords:

Melanin, Polydopamine, Water purification

Notes

Click here to view this presentation at the Office of Undergraduate Research website from April 27-May 2, 2020.

Major

Biochemistry; Chemistry

Project Mentor(s)

Jason Belitsky, Chemistry

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Apr 27th, 8:00 AM May 2nd, 5:00 PM

Small Molecule Interactions with Synthetic Melanin: Novel Modulators and Dye Capture

Virtual presentation

Melanins are complex biological pigments that are present in many organisms. Eumelanin, which is the brown-to-black pigment, and its analog, polydopamine, form spontaneously upon oxidation of L-dopa and dopamine, respectively. The polymer formed via this process self-assembles and aggregates, resulting in particles that grow larger over time and form complex, high-mass structures that are visible to the human eye. While synthetic melanins were found to have numerous biomedical, technological, and other applications, the process of their formation remains poorly understood. This research uses the optical properties of melanin to study the aggregation step of its formation by UV-Vis spectroscopy and the addition of small organic molecules. Scanning a large library of compounds allowed for the structural characterization of aggregation promoters. Molecules resembling melanin monomers were synthetically modified to have similar structural characteristics and, upon testing, were found to greatly enhance aggregation. The nature of the interactions between small molecules and melanin was investigated using dyes and UV-Vis spectroscopy. Dyes with similar structural properties as aggregation promoters were captured by melanin, suggesting that aggregation promoters become incorporated into the melanin particles as they form, uncovering information on the aggregation process of these biopolymers. Furthermore, these results show the potential use of melanin in capturing organic pollutants for water purification purposes.