Strong Underwater Adhesion by Synergy between Two Molecules
Strong Underwater Adhesion by Synergy between Two Molecules
  • reporter Choi Eun-je
  • 승인 2020.02.13 19:15
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▲Prof. Cha Hyung-joon (CE)
▲Prof. Cha Hyung-joon (CE)


Mussels are well known for strong underwater adhesion that is not even affected by heavy waves or storms. Mussels secrete adhesive proteins when producing tough fibers called byssus to attach itself to the surface of a rock.
Professor Cha Hyung-joon (CE) and his research team analyzed the adhesive proteins secreted by mussels and confirmed two molecules, Dopa and Lysine, which have strong adhesion even underwater. Also, they discovered that these molecules have a synergetic effect on mussel adh0
esions in various conditions.
Previous researchers emulated the shape of Dopa to make underwater adhesives. But there has been a limitation in making underwater adhesives as strong as the natural adhesives of mussels because it has been challenging to balance between surface adhesion and cohesion of adhesive molecules.
Unlike former studies, the research team recognized an important role of Lysine in underwater mussel adhesion. The interfacial adhesive protein fp-3F, which is located in the surface of mussels, contains a great quantity of Dopa and Lysine. The research team observed the distribution of these molecules in the protein and found that these molecules were either bound to or separated apart from each other at a specific location.
Based on the sequence of an interfacial adhesive protein, they synthesized three simple peptides with each different distance between Dopa and Lysine. By testing these model peptides, they discovered that the distance between Dopa and Lysine affected their synergy on surface adhesion and cohesion differently.
Through molecular biology techniques, they synthesized two different proteins with artificial sequences and compared it with proteins with natural sequence to apply the same mechanism in interfacial adhesive proteins of a mussel. As a result, they verified that the identical result was obtained in the proteins with artificial sequences.
Prof. Cha said, “We discovered the synergy of two molecules, Dopa and Lysin, and with this accomplishment, we anticipate to produce new underwater bio-adhesives of another level.” Also, this research is expected to enlighten future studies of other adhesive proteins in nature.
Their research accomplishment has been recently posted in the Journal of Colloid and Interface Science, the world’s prominent journal in the field of interface science.