The goal of this project is to determine the molecular structure of proteinaceous domains that exhibit bioadhesive functionality. Model peptides in the solvated adsorbed-state will be examined using a combination of biophysical techniques to monitor the conformational changes that occur upon substrate binding. This project seeks to develop a protocol for structural elucidation of adsorbed molecules in solution. Mussel adhesive protein, MAP, extracted from Mytilus edulis has provided information to create the initial model compounds. Solid-state techniques, such as multiple attenuated internal reflectance infrared (MAIR-IR) spectroscopy, ellipsometry, contact angle analysis, combined with solution-state nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy and molecular modeling have already given some structural information, but have not been used to their fullest potential. When warranted, these techniques, in addition to newly proposed "adsorbed-state" NMR spectroscopy, crystallization attempts for x-ray diffraction and cell attachment assays, will be employed. The information would be compiled to create molecular models of the peptides in close approximation to a surface to view and better understand changes that occur upon substrate binding.
The investigator has worked to combine research with teaching. The variety of courses the PI has taught at D'Youville College reflects her multi-disciplinary background (e.g., chemistry, biochemistry, mathematics and computer science). Most of the PI's students are female non-science majors. Although these students did not choose science as their major field of study, the scientific information, process and tools that they are exposed to have a significant impact on their overall education. Many of these students will be required to complete a Master's thesis or project. Additionally, the school has increased the number of education students drastically. These (K-12) pre-teacher's exposure to this project enhances not only their education, but of each of their students to follow. Exposure to this project may be the only opportunity D'Youville students have to witness basic research before they graduate.