A series of asymmetrically disubstituted diitaconate monomers is presented. Starting from itaconic anhydride, functional groups could be placed selectively at the two nonequivalent carbonyl groups. By using 2D NMR spectroscopy, it was shown that the first functionalization step occurred at the carbonyl group in the β position to the double bond. These monomers were copolymerized with N,N‐dimethylacrylamide (DMAA) to yield polymer‐based synthetic mimics of antimicrobial peptides (SMAMPs). They were obtained by free radical polymerization, a metal‐free process, and still maintained facial amphiphilicity at the repeat unit level. This eliminates the need for laborious metal removal and is advantageous from a regulatory and product safety perspective. The poly(diitaconate‐co‐DMAA) copolymers obtained were statistical to alternating, and the monomer feed ratio roughly matched that of the repeat unit content of the copolymers. Investigations of varied R group hydrophobicity, repeat unit ratio, and molecular mass on antimicrobial activity against Escherichia coli and on compatibility with human keratinocytes showed that the polymers with the longest R groups and lowest DMAA content were the most antimicrobial and hemolytic. This is in agreement with the biological activity of previously reported SMAMPs. Thus, the design concept of facial amphiphilicity has successfully been transferred, but the selectivity of these polymers for bacteria over mammalian cells still needs to be optimized.
Chemistry - A European Journal – Wiley
Published: Jul 7, 2018
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