Human serum albumin self-assembly on weak polyelectrolyte multilayer films structurally modified by pH changes

Csilla Gergely, Sophie Bahi, Balázs Szalontai, Hector Flores, Pierre Schaaf, Jean Claude Voegel, Frédéric J.G. Cuisinier

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92 Citations (Scopus)


Adsorption of proteins onto film surfaces built up layer by layer from oppositely charged polyelectrolytes is a complex phenomenon, governed by electrostatic forces, hydrogen bonds, and hydrophobic interactions. The amounts of the interacting charges, however, both in polyelectrolytes and in proteins adsorbed on such films are a function of the pH of the solution. In addition, the number and the accessibility of free charges in proteins depend on the secondary structure of the protein. The subtle interplay of all these factors determines the adsorption of the proteins onto the polyelectrolyte film surfaces. We investigated the effect of these parameters for polyelectrolyte films built up from weak "protein-like" polyelectrolytes (i.e., polypeptides), poly(L-lysine) (PLL), and poly(glutamic acid) (PGA) and for the adsorption of human serum albumin (HSA) onto these films in the pH range 3.0-10.5. It was found that the buildup of the polyelectrolyte films is not a simple function of the pure charges of the individual polyelectrolytes, as estimated from their respective pKa values. The adsorption of HSA onto (PLL/PGA)n films depended strongly on the polyelectrolyte terminating the film. For PLL-terminated polyelectrolyte films, at low pH, repulsion, as expected, is limiting the adsorption of HSA (having net positive charge below pH 4.6) since PLL is also positively charged here. At high pH values, an unexpected HSA uptake was found on the PGA-ending films, even when both PGA and HSA were negatively charged. It is suggested that the higher surface rugosity and the decrease of the a-helix content at basic pH values (making accessible certain charged groups of the protein for interactions with the polyelectrolyte film) could explain this behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5575-5582
Number of pages8
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - Jun 22 2004


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Spectroscopy
  • Electrochemistry

Cite this

Gergely, C., Bahi, S., Szalontai, B., Flores, H., Schaaf, P., Voegel, J. C., & Cuisinier, F. J. G. (2004). Human serum albumin self-assembly on weak polyelectrolyte multilayer films structurally modified by pH changes. Langmuir, 20(13), 5575-5582.