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Hydrogelation of a Naphthalene Diimide Appended Peptide Amphiphile and Its Application in Cell Imaging and Intracellular pH Sensing

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posted on 07.09.2017, 00:00 by Nilotpal Singha, Purnima Gupta, Bapan Pramanik, Sahnawaz Ahmed, Antara Dasgupta, Anindita Ukil, Debapratim Das
This study reports the self-assembly and application of a naphthalene diimide (NDI)-appended peptide amphiphile (PA). H-bonding among the peptide moiety in conjunction with π-stacking between NDI and hydrophobic interactions within the alkyl chain are the major driving forces behind the stepwise aggregation of the PA to form hydrogels. The PA produced efficient self-assemblies in water, forming a nanofibrous network that further formed a self-supportive hydrogel. The molecule followed a three-step self-assembly mechanism. At a lower concentration (50 μM), it forms extremely small aggregates with a very low population of the molecules. With an increase in concentration, spherical aggregates are formed above 450 μM concentration. Importantly, this water-soluble conjugate was found to be nontoxic, cell permeable, and usable for cell imaging. Moreover, the aggregation process and consequently the emission behavior are highly responsive to the pH of the medium. Thus, the pH responsive aggregation and emission behavior has an extended biological application for assessing intracellular pH. The biocompatibility and intracellular pH determining capability suggest it is a promising candidate for use as a supramolecular material in biomedical applications.

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