John Garner

Chitosan derivatives from PolySciTech used in the investigation of cuticle interactions to develop advanced materials

Blog Post created by John Garner on May 9, 2018

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There still remains a great deal to learn about how natural materials are structured and how the various components interact. There is a great opportunity for taking lessons how things in nature are constructed and applying that understanding to man-made technologies to improve these designs. A great example is spider silk which, relative to its weight, is one of the strongest substances in nature and a great deal stronger than most man-made materials. Developing this requires an understanding of how the natural material is constructed and how the various components work together. Recently, researchers from the University of Kansas and Kansas State University used low molecular weight and FITC-labelled Chitosan (Kitopure) from PolySciTech ( to investigate the interactions amongst biomacromolecules within insect cuticle. This research holds promise for enabling the generation of advanced biomimetic materials. Read more: Vaclaw, M. Coleman, Patricia A. Sprouse, Neal T. Dittmer, Saba Ghazvini, C. Russell Middaugh, Michael R. Kanost, Stevin H. Gehrke, and Prajnaparamita Dhar. "Self-assembled coacervates of chitosan and an insect cuticle protein containing a Rebers-Riddiford motif." Biomacromolecules (2018).


“The interactions among biomacromolecules within insect cuticle may offer new motifs for biomimetic material design. CPR27 is an abundant protein in the rigid cuticle of the elytron from Tribolium castaneum. CPR27 contains the Rebers–Riddiford (RR) motif, which is hypothesized to bind chitin. In this study, active magnetic microrheology coupled with microscopy and protein particle analysis techniques were used to correlate alterations in the viscosity of chitosan solutions with changes in solution microstructure. Addition of CPR27 to chitosan solutions led to a 3-fold drop in viscosity. This change was accompanied by the presence of micrometer-sized coacervate particles in solution. Coacervate formation had a strong dependence on chitosan concentration. Analysis showed the existence of a critical CPR27 concentration beyond which a significant increase in particle count was observed. These effects were not observed when a non-RR cuticular protein, CP30, was tested, providing evidence of a structure–function relationship related to the RR motif.”


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