, Volume 73, Issue 2, pp 243-254
Date: 24 Oct 2006

Well-defined protein–polymer conjugates—synthesis and potential applications

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Abstract

During the last decades, numerous studies have focused on combining the unique catalytic/functional properties and structural characteristics of proteins and enzymes with those of synthetic molecules and macromolecules. The aim of such multidisciplinary studies is to improve the properties of the natural component, combine them with those of the synthetic, and create novel biomaterials in the nanometer scale. The specific coupling of polymers onto the protein structures has proved to be one of the most straightforward and applicable approaches in that sense. In this article, we focus on the synthetic pathways that have or can be utilized to specifically couple proteins to polymers. The different categories of well-defined protein–polymer conjugates and the effect of the polymer on the protein function are discussed. Studies have shown that the specific conjugation of a synthetic polymer to a protein conveys its physico-chemical properties and, therefore, modifies the biodistribution and solubility of the protein, making it in certain cases soluble and active in organic solvents. An overview of the applications derived from such bioconjugates in the pharmaceutical industry, biocatalysis, and supramolecular nanobiotechnology is presented at the final part of the article.