ResearchPad - Surfaces, Coatings and Films Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[Extending the Lifetime of Hyperpolarized Propane Gas through Reversible Dissolution]]>


Hyperpolarized (HP) propane produced by the parahydrogen-induced polarization (PHIP) technique has been recently introduced as a promising contrast agent for functional lung magnetic resonance (MR) imaging. However, its short lifetime due to a spin–lattice relaxation time T1 of less than 1 s in the gas phase is a significant translational challenge for its potential biomedical applications. The previously demonstrated approach for extending the lifetime of the HP propane state through long-lived spin states allows the HP propane lifetime to be increased by a factor of ∼3. Here, we demonstrate that a remarkable increase in the propane hyperpolarization decay time at high magnetic field (7.1 T) can be achieved by its dissolution in deuterated organic solvents (acetone-d6 or methanol-d4). The approximate values of the HP decay time for propane dissolved in acetone-d6 are 35.1 and 28.6 s for the CH2 group and the CH3 group, respectively (similar values were obtained for propane dissolved in methanol-d4), which are ∼50 times larger than the gaseous propane T1 value. Furthermore, we show that it is possible to retrieve HP propane from solution to the gas phase with the preservation of hyperpolarization.

<![CDATA[Generalizing, Extending, and Maximizing Nitrogen-15 Hyperpolarization Induced by Parahydrogen in Reversible Exchange]]>


Signal Amplification by Reversible Exchange (SABRE) is a fast and convenient NMR hyperpolarization method that uses cheap and readily available para-hydrogen as a hyperpolarization source. SABRE can hyperpolarize protons and heteronuclei. Here we focus on the heteronuclear variant introduced as SABRE-SHEATH (SABRE in SHield Enables Alignment Transfer to Heteronuclei) and nitrogen-15 targets in particular. We show that 15N-SABRE works more efficiently and on a wider range of substrates than 1H-SABRE, greatly generalizing the SABRE approach. In addition, we show that nitrogen-15 offers significantly extended T1 times of up to 12 minutes. Long T1 times enable higher hyperpolarization levels but also hold the promise of hyperpolarized molecular imaging for several tens of minutes. Detailed characterization and optimization are presented, leading to nitrogen-15 polarization levels in excess of 10% on several compounds.

<![CDATA[Effect of Dimerization on the Dynamics of Neurotransmitter:Sodium Symporters]]>


Dimerization is a common feature among the members of the neurotransmitter:sodium symporter (NSS) family of membrane proteins. Yet, the effect of dimerization on the mechanism of action of NSS members is not fully understood. In this study, we examined the collective dynamics of two members of the family, leucine transporter (LeuT) and dopamine transporter (DAT), to assess the significance of dimerization in modulating the functional motions of the monomers. We used to this aim the anisotropic network model (ANM), an efficient and robust method for modeling the intrinsic motions of proteins and their complexes. Transporters belonging to the NSS family are known to alternate between outward-facing (OF) and inward-facing (IF) states, which enables the uptake and release of their substrate (neurotransmitter) respectively, as the substrate is transported from the exterior to the interior of the cell. In both LeuT and DAT, dimerization is found to alter the collective motions intrinsically accessible to the individual monomers in favor of the functional transitions (OF IF), suggesting that dimerization may play a role in facilitating transport.

<![CDATA[Computation of Hemagglutinin Free Energy Difference by the Confinement Method]]>


Hemagglutinin (HA) mediates membrane fusion, a crucial step during influenza virus cell entry. How many HAs are needed for this process is still subject to debate. To aid in this discussion, the confinement free energy method was used to calculate the conformational free energy difference between the extended intermediate and postfusion state of HA. Special care was taken to comply with the general guidelines for free energy calculations, thereby obtaining convergence and demonstrating reliability of the results. The energy that one HA trimer contributes to fusion was found to be 34.2 ± 3.4kBT, similar to the known contributions from other fusion proteins. Although computationally expensive, the technique used is a promising tool for the further energetic characterization of fusion protein mechanisms. Knowledge of the energetic contributions per protein, and of conserved residues that are crucial for fusion, aids in the development of fusion inhibitors for antiviral drugs.

<![CDATA[Effects of Active Site Mutations on Specificity of Nucleobase Binding in Human DNA Polymerase η]]> <![CDATA[Aqueous NMR Signal Enhancement by Reversible Exchange in a Single Step Using Water-Soluble Catalysts]]>


Two synthetic strategies are investigated for the preparation of water-soluble iridium-based catalysts for NMR signal amplification by reversible exchange (SABRE). In one approach, PEGylation of a variant N-heterocyclic carbene provided a novel catalyst with excellent water solubility. However, while SABRE-active in ethanol solutions, the catalyst lost activity in >50% water. In a second approach, synthesis of a novel di-iridium complex precursor where the cyclooctadiene (COD) rings have been replaced by CODDA (1,2-dihydroxy-3,7-cyclooctadiene) leads to the creation of a catalyst [IrCl(CODDA)IMes] that can be dissolved and activated in water—enabling aqueous SABRE in a single step, without need for either an organic cosolvent or solvent removal followed by aqueous reconstitution. The potential utility of the CODDA catalyst for aqueous SABRE is demonstrated with the ∼(−)32-fold enhancement of 1H signals of pyridine in water with only 1 atm of parahydrogen.

<![CDATA[Charge Carrier Trapping Processes in RE2O2S (RE = La, Gd, Y, and Lu)]]>


Two different charge carrier trapping processes have been investigated in RE2O2S:Ln3+ (RE = La, Gd, Y, and Lu; Ln = Ce, Pr, and Tb) and RE2O2S:M (M = Ti4+ and Eu3+). Cerium, praseodymium and terbium act as recombination centers and hole trapping centers while host intrinsic defects provide the electron trap. The captured electrons released from the intrinsic defects recombine at Ce4+, Pr4+, or Tb4+ via the conduction band. On the other hand, Ti4+ and Eu3+ act as recombination centers and electron trapping centers while host intrinsic defects act as hole trapping centers. For these codopants we find evidence that recombination is by means of hole release instead of electron release. The released holes recombine with the trapped electrons on Ti3+ or Eu2+ and yield broad Ti4+ yellow-red charge transfer (CT) emission or characteristic Eu3+ 4f–4f emission. We will conclude that the afterglow in Y2O2S:Ti4+, Eu3+ is due to hole release instead of more common electron release.

<![CDATA[Computational Assessment of Potassium and Magnesium Ion Binding to a Buried Pocket in GTPase-Associating Center RNA]]>


An experimentally well-studied model of RNA tertiary structures is a 58mer rRNA fragment, known as GTPase-associating center (GAC) RNA, in which a highly negative pocket walled by phosphate oxygen atoms is stabilized by a chelated cation. Although such deep pockets with more than one direct phosphate to ion chelation site normally include magnesium, as shown in one GAC crystal structure, another GAC crystal structure and solution experiments suggest potassium at this site. Both crystal structures also depict two magnesium ions directly bound to the phosphate groups comprising this controversial pocket. Here, we used classical molecular dynamics simulations as well as umbrella sampling to investigate the possibility of binding of potassium versus magnesium inside the pocket and to better characterize the chelation of one of the binding magnesium ions outside the pocket. The results support the preference of the pocket to accommodate potassium rather than magnesium and suggest that one of the closely binding magnesium ions can only bind at high magnesium concentrations, such as might be present during crystallization. This work illustrates the complementary utility of molecular modeling approaches with atomic-level detail in resolving discrepancies between conflicting experimental results.

<![CDATA[EPR and Structural Characterization of Water-Soluble Mn2+-Doped Si Nanoparticles]]>


Water-soluble poly(allylamine) Mn2+-doped Si (SiMn) nanoparticles (NPs) were prepared and show promise for biologically related applications. The nanoparticles show both strong photoluminescence and good magnetic resonance contrast imaging. The morphology and average diameter were obtained through transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and high-resolution transmission electron microscopy (HRTEM); spherical crystalline Si NPs with an average diameter of 4.2 ± 0.7 nm were observed. The doping maximum obtained through this process was an average concentration of 0.4 ± 0.3% Mn per mole of Si. The water-soluble SiMn NPs showed a strong photoluminescence with a quantum yield up to 13%. The SiMn NPs had significant T1 contrast with an r1 relaxivity of 11.1 ± 1.5 mM–1 s–1 and r2 relaxivity of 32.7 ± 4.7 mM–1 s–1 where the concentration is in mM of Mn2+. Dextran-coated poly(allylamine) SiMn NPs produced NPs with T1 and T2 contrast with a r1 relaxivity of 27.1 ± 2.8 mM–1 s–1 and r2 relaxivity of 1078.5 ± 1.9 mM–1 s–1. X-band electron paramagnetic resonance spectra are fit with a two-site model demonstrating that there are two types of Mn2+ in these NP’s. The fits yield hyperfine splittings (A) of 265 and 238 MHz with significant zero field splitting (D and E terms). This is consistent with Mn in sites of symmetry lower than tetrahedral due to the small size of the NP’s.

<![CDATA[ALD grown bilayer junction of ZnO:Al and tunnel oxide barrier for SIS solar cell]]>

Various metal oxides are probed as extrinsic thin tunnel barriers in Semiconductor Insulator Semiconductor solar cells. Namely Al2O3, ZrO2, Y2O3, and La2O3 thin films are in between n-type ZnO:Al (AZO) and p-type Si substrates by means of Atomic Layer Deposition. Low reverse dark current–density as low as 3×10−7 A/cm2, a fill factor up to 71.3%, and open-circuit voltage as high as 527 mV are obtained, achieving conversion efficiency of 8% for the rare earth oxide La2O3. ZrO2 and notably Al2O3 show drawbacks in performance suggesting an adverse reactivity with AZO as also indicated by X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy.

<![CDATA[Protein–Protein Interactions in Dilute to Concentrated Solutions: α-Chymotrypsinogen in Acidic Conditions]]>


Protein–protein interactions were investigated for α-chymotrypsinogen by static and dynamic light scattering (SLS and DLS, respectively), as well as small-angle neutron scattering (SANS), as a function of protein and salt concentration at acidic conditions. Net protein–protein interactions were probed via the Kirkwood–Buff integral G22 and the static structure factor S(q) from SLS and SANS data. G22 was obtained by regressing the Rayleigh ratio versus protein concentration with a local Taylor series approach, which does not require one to assume the underlying form or nature of intermolecular interactions. In addition, G22 and S(q) were further analyzed by traditional methods involving fits to effective interaction potentials. Although the fitted model parameters were not always physically realistic, the numerical values for G22 and S(q → 0) were in good agreement from SLS and SANS as a function of protein concentration. In the dilute regime, fitted G22 values agreed with those obtained via the osmotic second virial coefficient B22 and showed that electrostatic interactions are the dominant contribution for colloidal interactions in α-chymotrypsinogen solutions. However, as protein concentration increases, the strength of protein–protein interactions decreases, with a more pronounced decrease at low salt concentrations. The results are consistent with an effective “crowding” or excluded volume contribution to G22 due to the long-ranged electrostatic repulsions that are prominent even at the moderate range of protein concentrations used here (<40 g/L). These apparent crowding effects were confirmed and quantified by assessing the hydrodynamic factor H(q → 0), which is obtained by combining measurements of the collective diffusion coefficient from DLS data with measurements of S(q → 0). H(q → 0) was significantly less than that for a corresponding hard-sphere system and showed that hydrodynamic nonidealities can lead to qualitatively incorrect conclusions regarding B22, G22, and static protein–protein interactions if one uses only DLS to assess protein interactions.

<![CDATA[Influence of Structural Heterogeneity on Diffusion of CH4 and CO2 in Silicon Carbide-Derived Nanoporous Carbon]]>


We investigate the influence of structural heterogeneity on the transport properties of simple gases in a Hybrid Reverse Monte Carlo (HRMC) constructed model of silicon carbide-derived carbon (SiC-DC). The energy landscape of the system is determined based on free energy analysis of the atomistic model. The overall energy barriers of the system for different gases are computed along with important properties, such as Henry constant and differential enthalpy of adsorption at infinite dilution, and indicate hydrophobicity of the SiC-DC structure and its affinity for CO2 and CH4 adsorption. We also study the effect of molecular geometry, pore structure and energy heterogeneity considering different hopping scenarios for diffusion of CO2 and CH4 through ultramicropores using the Nudged Elastic Band (NEB) method. It is shown that the energy barrier of a hopping molecule is very sensitive to the shape of the pore entry. We provide evidence for the influence of structural heterogeneity on self-diffusivity of methane and carbon dioxide using molecular dynamics simulation, based on a maximum in the variation of self-diffusivity with loading. A comparison of the MD simulation results with self-diffusivities from quasi-elastic neutron scattering (QENS) measurements and, with macroscopic uptake-based low-density transport coefficients, reveals the existence of internal barriers not captured in MD simulation and QENS experiments. Nevertheless, the simulation and macroscopic uptake-based diffusion coefficients agree within a factor of 2–3, indicating that our HRMC model structure captures most of the important energy barriers affecting the transport of CH4 in the nanostructure of SiC-DC.

<![CDATA[Pyroglutamylated Amyloid-β Peptide Reverses Cross β-Sheets by a Prion-Like Mechanism]]>


The amyloid hypothesis causatively relates the fibrillar deposits of amyloid β peptide (Aβ) to Alzheimer’s disease (AD). More recent data, however, identify the soluble oligomers as the major cytotoxic entities. Pyroglutamylated Aβ (pE-Aβ) is present in AD brains and exerts augmented neurotoxicity, which is believed to result from its higher β-sheet propensity and faster fibrillization. While this concept is based on a set of experimental results, others have reported similar β-sheet contents in unmodified and pyroglutamylated Aβ, and slower aggregation of pE-Aβ as compared to unmodified Aβ, leaving the issue unresolved. Here, we assess the structural differences between Aβ and pE-Aβ peptides that may underlie their distinct cytotoxicities. Transmission electron microscopy identifies a larger number of prefibrillar aggregates of pE-Aβ at early stages of aggregation and suggests that pE-Aβ affects the fibrillogenesis even at low molar fractions. Circular dichroism and FTIR data indicate that while the unmodified Aβ readily forms β-sheet fibrils in aqueous media, pE-Aβ displays increased α-helical and decreased β-sheet propensity. Moreover, isotope-edited FTIR spectroscopy shows that pE-Aβ reverses β-sheet formation and hence fibrillogenesis of the unmodified Aβ peptide via a prion-like mechanism. These data provide a novel structural mechanism for pE-Aβ hypertoxicity; pE-Aβ undergoes faster formation of prefibrillar aggregates due to its increased hydrophobicity, thus shifting the initial stages of fibrillogenesis toward smaller, hypertoxic oligomers of partial α-helical structure.

<![CDATA[Proton Transfer Induced SOMO-to-HOMO Level Switching in One-Electron Oxidized A-T and G-C Base Pairs: A Density Functional Theory Study]]>


In the present study, we show that for one-electron oxidized A-T or G-C base pairs the singly occupied molecular orbital (SOMO) is located on A or G and is lower in energy than the doubly occupied highest-occupied molecular orbital (HOMO) localized to the pyrimidines, T or C. This directs second ionizations to the pyrimidine bases resulting in triplet state diradical dications, (A•+-T•+) and (G•+-C•+). On interbase proton transfer, the SOMO and HOMO levels switch and the second oxidation is redirected to G and A. For G-C, the doubly oxidized singlet G(-H)+-C(H+) is more stable than its triplet (G•+-C•+); however, for A-T, the triplet (A•+-T•+) lies lowest in energy. The study demonstrates that double ionization of the A-T base pair results in a triplet dication diradical, which is more stable than the proton-transferred triplet or singlet species; whereas, double ionization of the G-C base pair, the proton transferred doubly oxidized singlet, G(-H)+-C(H+), is more stable and has both oxidations on guanine. In DNA, with both A-T and G-C, multiple oxidations would transfer to the guanine base alone.

<![CDATA[Probing the Quenching of Quantum Dot Photoluminescence by Peptide-Labeled Ruthenium(II) Complexes]]>


Charge transfer processes with semiconductor quantum dots (QDs) have generated much interest for potential utility in energy conversion. Such configurations are generally nonbiological; however, recent studies have shown that a redox-active ruthenium(II)–phenanthroline complex (Ru2+-phen) is particularly efficient at quenching the photoluminescence (PL) of QDs, and this mechanism demonstrates good potential for application as a generalized biosensing detection modality since it is aqueous compatible. Multiple possibilities for charge transfer and/or energy transfer mechanisms exist within this type of assembly, and there is currently a limited understanding of the underlying photophysical processes in such biocomposite systems where nanomaterials are directly interfaced with biomolecules such as proteins. Here, we utilize redox reactions, steady-state absorption, PL spectroscopy, time-resolved PL spectroscopy, and femtosecond transient absorption spectroscopy (FSTA) to investigate PL quenching in biological assemblies of CdSe/ZnS QDs formed with peptide-linked Ru2+-phen. The results reveal that QD quenching requires the Ru2+ oxidation state and is not consistent with Förster resonance energy transfer, strongly supporting a charge transfer mechanism. Further, two colors of CdSe/ZnS core/shell QDs with similar macroscopic optical properties were found to have very different rates of charge transfer quenching, by Ru2+-phen with the key difference between them appearing to be the thickness of their ZnS outer shell. The effect of shell thickness was found to be larger than the effect of increasing distance between the QD and Ru2+-phen when using peptides of increasing persistence length. FSTA and time-resolved upconversion PL results further show that exciton quenching is a rather slow process consistent with other QD conjugate materials that undergo hole transfer. An improved understanding of the QD–Ru2+-phen system can allow for the design of more sophisticated charge-transfer-based biosensors using QD platforms.

<![CDATA[Intramolecular N–H⋯Cl hydrogen bonds in the outer coordination sphere of a bipyridyl bisurea-based ligand stabilize a tetrahedral FeLCl2 complex]]>

A bipyridyl-bisurea ligand coordinates a tetrahedral FeCl2 complex and demonstrates secondary coordination sphere influence through intramolecular hydrogen bonding to the chloride ligands.

<![CDATA[Time Evolution of the Wettability of Supported Graphene under Ambient Air Exposure]]>


HTA is considered the most comprehensive and transparent method of supporting decision-makers in their choices in Public Health.

HTA on vaccines is being performed by many experts. However, they often present their studies to colleagues, but not to decisionmakers, who should be the main target and current users. It is therefore crucial to improve the transfer of scientific data to decision- makers and all stakeholders.

The aims of the present project are: 1) to set up a team of experts to collect economic evaluations and HTA studies on vaccines and assess their actual use in decision-making processes; 2) to constitute regional working groups in order to identify the critical aspects of the communication process and identify the most appropriate method of data transfer.

Systematic reviews of economic evaluations and HTA on vaccines and their actual use in decision-making will be used to draw up the basic documents for discussion by the 3 regional working boards. The working groups will discuss the current scientific evidence and communication methods and will try to implement a model of technology assessment with well-defined and objective criteria, in order to better fit pharmaco-economic and HTA methods to the field of vaccinations.

Improving the transfer of HTA results to stakeholders, particularly decision-makers, will enable decisions to be taken on the basis of scientific evidence, and appropriate, sustainable actions to be undertaken.

<![CDATA[What is the Etiology of Dysarthria and Ataxia in a Woman With Cancer?]]> ]]>