A Polymer Surfactant Corona Dynamically Replaces Water in Solvent-Free Protein Liquids and Ensures Macromolecular Flexibility and Activity

The observation of biological activity in solvent-free protein–polymer surfactant hybrids challenges the view of aqueous and nonaqueous solvents being unique promoters of protein dynamics linked to function. Here, we combine elastic incoherent neutron scattering and specific deuterium labeling to separately study protein and polymer motions in solvent-free hybrids. Myoglobin motions within the hybrid are found to closely resemble those of a hydrated protein, and motions of the polymer surfactant coating are similar to those of the hydration water, leading to the conclusion that the polymer surfactant coating plasticizes protein structures in a way similar to hydration water.