Stimuli-responsive structural proteins are emerging as promising biocompatible materials for a wide range of biological and nonbiological applications. To understand the physical properties of structural proteins and to replicate their performance in biosynthetic systems, there is a need to understand the molecular mechanisms and relationships that regulate their structure, dynamics, and properties. Here, we study the dynamics of a recombinant squid-inspired protein from Loligo vulgaris (Lv18) by elastic and quasielastic neutron scattering (QENS) to understand the connection between nanostructure, chain dynamics, and mechanical properties. Lv18 is a semicrystalline structural protein, which is plasticized by water above its glass transition temperature at 35 °C. Elastic scans revealed an increased protein chain mobility upon hydration, superimposed dynamic processes, and a decrease in dynamic transition temperatures. Further analysis by QENS revealed that while dry Lv18 protein dynamics are dominated by localized methyl group rotations, hydrated Lv18 dynamics are dominated by the confined diffusion of flexible chains within a β-sheet nanocrystalline network (8 Å of confinement radius). Our findings establish a relationship between the segment block architecture of Lv18, the diffusive motions within the protein structure, and the mechanical properties of recombinant squid proteins, which will advance the molecular design of novel high-performance protein-inspired materials with tailored dynamics and mechanical properties.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Polymers and Plastics
- Materials Chemistry