A Chain‐Elongated Oligophenylenevinylene Electrolyte Increases Microbial Membrane Stability


Cheng Zhou, Geraldine W. N. Chia, James C. S. Ho, Alex S. Moreland, Thomas Seviour, Bo Liedberg, Atul N. Parikh, Staffan Kjelleberg, Jamie Hinks, Guillermo C. Bazan,  Advanced Materials (Communication) 1808021, 2019

A novel conjugated oligoelectrolyte (COE) material, named S6, is designed to have a lipid-bilayer stabilizing topology afforded by an extended oligophenylenevinylene backbone. S6 intercalates biological membranes acting as a hydrophobic support for glycerophospholipid acyl chains. Indeed, Escherichia coli treated with S6 exhibits a twofold improvement in butanol tolerance, a relevant feature to achieve within the general context of modifying microorganisms used in biofuel production. Filamentous growth, a morphological stress response to butanol toxicity in E. coli, is observed in untreated cells after incubation with 0.9% butanol (v/v), but is mitigated by S6 treatment. Real-time fluorescence imaging using giant unilamellar vesicles reveals the extent to which S6 counters membrane instability. Moreover, S6 also reduces butanol-induced lipopolysaccharide release from the outer membrane to further maintain cell integrity. These findings highlight a deliberate effort in the molecular design of a chain- elongated COE to stabilize microbial membranes against environmental challenges.

DOI: 10.1002/adma.201808021