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Book Chapter
Carvalho, HF, Barbosa A, Roque ACA, Iranzo O, Branco RJF.  2017.  Integration of Molecular Dynamics Based Predictions into the Optimization of de novo Protein Designs: Limitations and Benefits. Computation Protein Design. :181-201.
Conference Paper
Palma, SICJ, Esteves C, Pádua AC, Alves CM, Santos GMC, Costa HMA, Dionisio M, Gamboa H, Gruber J, Roque ACA.  2019.  Enhanced gas sensing with soft functional materials, May 2019. ISOEN 2019 - 18th International Symposium on Olfaction and Electronic Nose, Proceedings. , Fukuoka, Japan: Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. AbstractPDF

The materials described in this work result from the selfassembly of liquid crystals and ionic liquids into droplets,
stabilized within a biopolymeric matrix. These systems are
extremely versatile gels, in terms of composition, and offer
potential for fine tuning of both structure and function, as
each individual component can be varied. Here, the
characterization and application of these gels as sensing thin
films in gas sensor devices is presented. The unique
supramolecular structure of the gels is explored for molecular
recognition of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) by
employing gels with distinct formulations to yield
combinatorial optical and electrical responses used in the
distinction and identification of VOCs.

Journal Article
Ataíde, F, Azevedo C, Clemente JJ, Cunha AE, Freitas F, Reis MAM, Roque ACA, Oliveira R.  2012.  Analysis of oxygen transport enhancement by functionalized magnetic nanoparticles (FMP) in bioprocesses. New Biotechnology. 29S:S75.Website
Bicho, A, Peça IN, Roque ACA, Cardoso MM.  2010.  Anti-CD8 conjugated nanoparticles to target mammalian cells expressing CD8. International Journal of Pharmaceutics. 399:80–86., Number 1-2 AbstractWebsite

This work aimed at the development of targeted drug delivery systems using nanoparticles fused with antibodies. The antibody anti-human {CD8} was coupled onto {PLGA} nanoparticles, and the ability of these particles to specifically target cells expressing {CD8} was studied. The obtained particles were found to be of spherical shape exhibiting a size between 350 and 600 nm. In vitro experiments with different cellular cultures {(TE671}, {CHO} and {HEK293)} using unmodified nanoparticles containing rhodamine have shown that particles were present on their surface within 48 h of incubation. In vitro tests using {anti-CD8} conjugated nanoparticles in {CHO} cell cultures indicated that all transfected cells which express {CD8} show these particles on their surface within 1h of incubation. These results demonstrated that, in a shorter time, the produced particles can target cells expressing {CD8} on their surface which offers the ability to reduce drug side effects. The antibody-coupled nanoparticles represent a promising approach to improve the efficacy of active targeting for lymphoblastic leukaemia therapy.

Cardoso, MM, Peça IN, Roque ACA.  2012.  Antibody-Conjugated Nanoparticles for Therapeutic Applications. Current Medicinal Chemistry. 19(19):3103-3127. AbstractWebsite

A great challenge to clinical development is the delivery of chemotherapeutic agents, known to cause severe toxic effects, directly to diseased sites which increase the therapeutic index whilst minimizing off-target side effects. Antibody-conjugated nanoparticles offer great opportunities to overcome these limitations in therapeutics. They combine the advantages given by the nanoparticles with the ability to bind to their target with high affinity and improve cell penetration given by the antibodies. This specialized vehicle, that can encapsulate several chemotherapeutic agents, can be engineered to possess the desirable properties, allowing overcoming the successive physiological conditions and to cross biological barriers and reach a specific tissue or cell. Moreover, antibody-conjugated nanoparticles have shown the ability to be internalized through receptor-mediated endocytosis and accumulate in cells without being recognized by the P-glycoprotein, one of the main mediators of multi-drug resistance, resulting in an increase in the intracellular concentration of drugs. Also, progress in antibody engineering has allowed the manipulation of the basic antibody structure for raising and tailoring specificity and functionality. This review explores recent developments on active drug targeting by nanoparticles functionalized with monoclonal antibodies (polymeric micelles, liposomes and polymeric nanoparticles) and summarizes the opportunities of these targeting strategies in the therapy of serious diseases (cancer, inflammatory diseases, infectious diseases, and thrombosis).

Mariz, BP, Carvalho S, Batalha IL, Pina AS.  2021.  Artificial enzymes bringing together computational design and directed evolution. Organic & Biomolecular Chemistry. 19(9):1915-1925.
Roque, ACA, Bicho A, Batalha IL, Cardoso AS, Hussain A.  2009.  Biocompatible and bioactive gum Arabic coated iron oxide magnetic nanoparticles. Journal of Biotechnology. 144:313–320., Number 4 AbstractWebsite

The surface modification of iron oxide magnetic nanoparticles {(MNPs)} with gum Arabic {(GA)} via adsorption and covalent coupling was studied. The adsorption of {GA} was assessed during {MNP} chemical synthesis by the co-precipitation method {(MNP\_GA)}, and after {MNP} synthesis on both bare magnetite and {MNP\_GA.} The covalent immobilization of {GA} at the surface of aldehyde-activated {(MNP\_GAAPTES)} or aminated {MNPs} {(MNP\_GAEDC)} was achieved through free terminal amino and carboxylate groups from {GA.} The presence of {GA} at the surface of the {MNPs} was confirmed by {FTIR} and by the quantification of {GA} by the bicinchoninic acid test. Results indicated that the maximum of {GA} coating was obtained for the covalent coupling of {GA} through its free carboxylate groups {(MNP\_GAEDC)}, yielding a maximum of 1.8&\#xa0;g of {GA} bound/g of dried particles. The hydrodynamic diameter of {MNPs} modified with {GA} after synthesis resulted in the lowest values, in opposition to the {MNPs} co-precipitated with {GA} which presented the tendency to form larger aggregates of up to 1&\#xa0;μm. The zeta potentials indicate the existence of negatively charged surfaces before and after {GA} coating. The potential of the {GA} coated {MNPs} for further biomolecule attachment was assessed through anchorage of a model antibody to aldehyde-functionalized {MNP\_GA} and its subsequent detection with an {FITC} labeled anti-antibody.

Carvalho, HF, Roque ACA, Iranzo O, Branco RJF.  2015.  Comparison of the Internal Dynamics of Metalloproteases Provides New Insights on Their Function and Evolution, 2015/09/23. PLoS ONE. 10(9):e0138118-.: Public Library of Science AbstractWebsite

Metalloproteases have evolved in a vast number of biological systems, being one of the most diverse types of proteases and presenting a wide range of folds and catalytic metal ions. Given the increasing understanding of protein internal dynamics and its role in enzyme function, we are interested in assessing how the structural heterogeneity of metalloproteases translates into their dynamics. Therefore, the dynamical profile of the clan MA type protein thermolysin, derived from an Elastic Network Model of protein structure, was evaluated against those obtained from a set of experimental structures and molecular dynamics simulation trajectories. A close correspondence was obtained between modes derived from the coarse-grained model and the subspace of functionally-relevant motions observed experimentally, the later being shown to be encoded in the internal dynamics of the protein. This prompted the use of dynamics-based comparison methods that employ such coarse-grained models in a representative set of clan members, allowing for its quantitative description in terms of structural and dynamical variability. Although members show structural similarity, they nonetheless present distinct dynamical profiles, with no apparent correlation between structural and dynamical relatedness. However, previously unnoticed dynamical similarity was found between the relevant members Carboxypeptidase Pfu, Leishmanolysin, and Botulinum Neurotoxin Type A, despite sharing no structural similarity. Inspection of the respective alignments shows that dynamical similarity has a functional basis, namely the need for maintaining proper intermolecular interactions with the respective substrates. These results suggest that distinct selective pressure mechanisms act on metalloproteases at structural and dynamical levels through the course of their evolution. This work shows how new insights on metalloprotease function and evolution can be assessed with comparison schemes that incorporate information on protein dynamics. The integration of these newly developed tools, if applied to other protein families, can lead to more accurate and descriptive protein classification systems.

Palma, SICJ, Carvalho A, Silva J, Martins P, Marciello M, Fernandes AR, del Puerto Morales M, Roque ACA.  2015.  Covalent coupling of gum arabic onto superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles for MRI cell labeling: physicochemical and in vitro characterization. Contrast Media & Molecular Imaging. 10:320–328., Number 4 AbstractWebsite

Gum arabic (GA) is a hydrophilic composite polysaccharide derived from exudates of Acacia senegal and Acacia seyal trees. It is biocompatible, possesses emulsifying and stabilizing properties and has been explored as coating agent of nanomaterials for biomedical applications, namely magnetic nanoparticles (MNPs). Previous studies focused on the adsorption of GA onto MNPs produced by co-precipitation methods. In this work, MNPs produced by a thermal decomposition method, known to produce uniform particles with better crystalline properties, were used for the covalent coupling of GA through its free amine groups, which increases the stability of the coating layer. The MNPs were produced by thermal decomposition of Fe(acac)3 in organic solvent and, after ligand-exchange with meso-2,3-dimercaptosuccinic acid (DMSA), GA coating was achieved by the establishment of a covalent bond between DMSA and GA moieties. Clusters of several magnetic cores entrapped in a shell of GA were obtained, with good colloidal stability and promising magnetic relaxation properties (r2/r1 ratio of 350). HCT116 colorectal carcinoma cell line was used for in vitro cytotoxicity evaluation and cell-labeling efficiency studies. We show that, upon administration at the respective IC50, GA coating enhances MNP cellular uptake by 19 times compared to particles bearing only DMSA moieties. Accordingly, in vitro MR images of cells incubated with increasing concentrations of GA-coated MNP present dose-dependent contrast enhancement. The obtained results suggest that the GA magnetic nanosystem could be used as a MRI contrast agent for cell-labeling applications. Copyright © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Palma, SI, Marciello M, Carvalho A, Veintemillas-Verdaguer S, Morales PM, Roque ACA.  2015.  Effects of phase transfer ligands on monodisperse iron oxide magnetic nanoparticles. Journal of Colloid & Interface Science. 437(1):147–155. AbstractWebsite

Oleic acid coated iron oxide nanoparticles synthesized by thermal decomposition in organic medium are highly monodisperse but at the same time are unsuitable for biological applications. Ligand-exchange reactions are useful to make their surface hydrophilic. However, these could alter some structural and magnetic properties of the modified particles. Here we present a comprehensive study and comparison of the effects of employing either citric acid (CA) or meso-2,3-dimercaptosuccinic acid (DMSA) ligand-exchange protocols for phase transfer of monodisperse hydrophobic iron oxide nanoparticles produced by thermal decomposition of Fe(acac)3 in benzyl ether. We show the excellent hydrodynamic size distribution and colloidal stability of the hydrophilic particles obtained by the two protocols and confirm that there is a certain degree of oxidation caused by the ligand-exchange. CA revealed to be more aggressive towards the iron oxide surface than DMSA and greatly reduced the saturation magnetization values and initial susceptibility of the resulting particles compared to the native ones. Besides being milder and more straightforward to perform, the DMSA ligand exchange protocol produces MNP chemically more versatile for further functionalization possibilities. This versatility is shown through the covalent linkage of gum Arabic onto MNP-DMSA using carboxyl and thiol based chemical routes and yielding particles with comparable properties.

Sandu, ICA, Roque ACA, Matteini P, Schäfer S, Agati G, Correia CR, Viana JFFP.  2012.  Fluorescence recognition of proteinaceous binders in works of art by a novel integrated system of investigation. Microscopy Research and Technique. 75(3):316-24. AbstractWebsite

Fluorescence microscopy and microspectrofluorometry are important tools in the characterization and identification of proteins, offering a great range of applications in conservation science. Because of their high selectivity and sensitivity, the combination of these techniques can be exploited for improved recognition and quantification of proteinaceous binders in paintings and polychromed works of art. The present article explores an analytical protocol integrating fluorescence microscopy and fluorometry for both identification and mapping of proteinaceous binders (in particular egg and glues) in paint samples. The study has been carried out on historically accurate reconstructions simulating the structure and composition of tempera and oil paints containing these binders. To assess the spatial distribution of specific proteins within the paint layers, cross-sections from the reconstructions were analyzed by fluorescence imaging after staining with an exogenous fluorophore. Reference fluorescence spectra for each layer were acquired by a multichannel spectral analyzer and compared after Gaussian deconvolution. The results obtained demonstrated the effectiveness of the integrated protocol, highlighting the potential for the use of fluorescent staining coupled with microspectrofluorometry as a routine diagnostic tool in conservation science. The current work creates a set of fully characterized reference samples for further comparison with those from actual works of art.

Barroso, T, Casimiro T, Ferraria A, Mattioli F, Aguiar-Ricardo A, Roque ACA.  2014.  Hybrid monoliths for magnetically-driven protein separations. Adv. Funct. Mater.. 24(28):4528–4541. AbstractWebsite

Monoliths represent powerful platforms for isolation of large molecules with high added value. This work presents a hybrid approach for antibody (Ab) capture and release. Using mostly natural polymers and clean processes, it is possible to create macroporous monoliths with well-defined porous networks, tuneable mechanical properties, and easy functionalization with a biomimetic ligand specific for Ab. Magnetic nanoparticles (MNPs) are embedded on the monolith network to confer a controlled magnetic response that facilitates and accelerates Ab recovery in the elution step. The hybrid monolithic systems prepared with agarose or chitosan/poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA) blends exhibit promising binding capacities of Abs directly from cell-culture extracts (120 ± 10 mg Ab g−1 support) and controlled Ab magnetically-assisted elution yielding 95 ± 2% recovery. Moreover, a selective capture of mAbs directly from cell culture extracts is achieved yielding a final mAb preparation with 96% of purity.

Carvalho, H, Branco R, Leite F, Matzapetakis M, Roque ACA, Iranzo O.  2019.  Hydrolytic zinc metallopeptides using a computational multi-state design approach. Catalysis Science Technology. 9(23):6723-6736. AbstractWebsite

Hydrolytic zinc enzymes are common targets for protein design. The versatility of the zinc chemistry can be combined with the usage of small protein scaffolds for biocatalytic applications. Despite this, the computational design of metal-containing proteins remains challenging due to the need to properly model protein–metal interactions. We addressed these issues by developing a computational multi-state design approach of artificial zinc hydrolases based on small protein scaffolds. The zinc-finger peptide Sp1f2 was redesigned to accommodate a catalytic zinc centre and the villin headpiece C-terminal subdomain HP35 was de novo designed for metal-binding and catalytic activity. Both metallopeptides exhibited metal-induced folding (KZnP,app ≈ 2 × 105 M−1) and hydrolytic activity (k2 ≈ 0.1 M−1 s−1) towards an ester substrate. By focusing on the inherent flexibility of small proteins and their interactions with the metal ion by molecular dynamics simulations and spectroscopic studies, we identified current limitations on computational design of metalloenzymes and propose how these can be overcome by integrating information of protein–metal interactions in long time scale simulations.

Cerff, M, Scholz A, Franzreb M, Batalha IL, Roque ACA, Posten C.  2013.  In situ magnetic separation of antibody fragments from Escherichia coli in complex media. BMC biotechnology. 13(1):44. AbstractWebsite

In situ magnetic separation (ISMS) has emerged as a powerful tool to overcome process constraints such as product degradation or inhibition of target production. In the present work, an integrated ISMS process was established for the production of his-tagged single chain fragment variable (scFv) D1.3 antibodies (?D1.3?) produced by E. coli in complex media. This study investigates the impact of ISMS on the overall product yield as well as its biocompatibility with the bioprocess when metal-chelate and triazine-functionalized magnetic beads were used.

Both particle systems are well suited for separation of D1.3 during cultivation. While the triazine beads did not negatively impact the bioprocess, the application of metal-chelate particles caused leakage of divalent copper ions in the medium. After the ISMS step, elevated copper concentrations above 120?mg/L in the medium negatively influenced D1.3 production. Due to the stable nature of the model protein scFv D1.3 in the biosuspension, the application of ISMS could not increase the overall D1.3 yield as was shown by simulation and experiments.

We could demonstrate that triazine-functionalized beads are a suitable low-cost alternative to selectively adsorb D1.3 fragments, and measured maximum loads of 0.08?g D1.3 per g of beads. Although copper-loaded metal-chelate beads did adsorb his-tagged D1.3 well during cultivation, this particle system must be optimized by minimizing metal leakage from the beads in order to avoid negative inhibitory effects on growth of the microorganisms and target production. Hereby, other types of metal chelate complexes should be tested to demonstrate biocompatibility. Such optimized particle systems can be regarded as ISMS platform technology, especially for the production of antibodies and their fragments with low stability in the medium. The proposed model can be applied to design future ISMS experiments in order to maximize the overall product yield while the amount of particles being used is minimized as well as the number of required ISMS steps.

Bicho, A, Roque ACA, Cardoso AS, Domingos P, Batalha ÍL.  2010.  In vitro studies with mammalian cell lines and gum arabic‐coated magnetic nanoparticles. Journal of Molecular Recognition. 23:536–542., Number 6 AbstractWebsite

Iron oxide magnetic nanoparticles {(MNPs)} were synthesized by the chemical co-precipitation method and coated with gum arabic {(GA)} by physical adsorption and covalent attachment. Cultures of mammalian cell lines {(HEK293}, {CHO} and {TE671)} were grown in the presence of uncoated and {GA-coated} {MNPs.} Cellular growth was followed by optical microscopy in order to assess the proportion of cells with particles, alterations in cellular density and the presence of debris. The in vitro assays demonstrated that cells from different origins are affected differently by the presence of the nanoparticles. Also, the methods followed for {GA} coating of {MNPs} endow distinct surface characteristics that probably underlie the observed differences when in contact with the cells. In general, the nanoparticles to which the {GA} was adsorbed had a smaller ability to attach to the cells' surface and to compromise the viability of the cultures. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Gonçalves, WB, Cervantes EP, Pádua ACCS, Santos G, Palma SICJ, Li RWC, Roque ACA, Gruber J.  2021.  Ionogels Based on a Single Ionic Liquid for Electronic Nose Application, jul. Chemosensors. 9(201), Number 8: Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute AbstractPDFWebsite

Ionogel are versatile materials, as they present the electrical properties of ionic liquids and also dimensional stability, since they are trapped in a solid matrix, allowing application in electronic devices such as gas sensors and electronic noses. In this work, ionogels were designed to act as a sensitive layer for the detection of volatiles in a custom-made electronic nose. Ionogels composed of gelatin and a single imidazolium ionic liquid were doped with bare and functionalized iron oxide nanoparticles, producing ionogels with adjustable target selectivity. After exposing an array of four ionogels to 12 distinct volatile organic compounds, the collected signals were analyzed by principal component analysis (PCA) and by several supervised classification methods, in order to assess the ability of the electronic nose to distinguish different volatiles, which showed accuracy above 98%.

Palma, SICJ, Frazao J, Alves R, Costa HMA, Alves C, Gamboa H, Silveira M, Roque ACA.  2022.  Learning to see VOCs with Liquid Crystal Droplets, may. 2022 IEEE International Symposium on Olfaction and Electronic Nose (ISOEN). :1–4.: IEEE AbstractPDFWebsite

In hybrid gels with immobilized liquid crystal
(LC) droplets, fast and unique optical texture variations are
generated when distinct volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
interact with the LC and disturb its molecular order. The
optical texture variations can be observed under a polarized
optical microscope or transduced into a signal representing the
variations of light transmitted through the LC. We show how
hybrid gels can accurately identify 11 distinct VOCs by using
deep learning to analyze optical texture variations of individual
droplets (0.93 average F1-score) and by using machine learning
to analyze 1D optical signals from multiple droplets in hybrid
gels (0.88 average F1-score)

Santos, R, Romão MJ, Roque ACA, Carvalho AL.  2021.  Magnetic particles used in a new approach for designed protein crystallization. CrystEngComm. 23(5):1083-1090.
dos Santos, R, Iria I, Manuel AM, Leandro AP, Madeira CAC, Gonçalves J, Carvalho AL, Roque ACA.  2020.  Magnetic Precipitation: A New Platform for Protein Purification. Biotechnology Journal. 15(9):2000151.
Frazão, J, Palma SICJ, Costa HMA, Alves C, Roque ACA, Silveira M.  2021.  Optical Gas Sensing with Liquid Crystal Droplets and Convolutional Neural Networks. Sensors. 21(8):2854.PDF
dos Santos, R, Carvalho AL, Roque ACA.  2017.  Renaissance of protein crystallization and precipitation in biopharmaceuticals purification. Biotechnology Advances. 35:–., Number 1: Elsevier Inc. AbstractWebsite

The current chromatographic approaches used in protein purification are not keeping pace with the increasing biopharmaceutical market demand. With the upstream improvements, the bottleneck shifted towards the downstream process. New approaches rely in Anything But Chromatography methodologies and revisiting former techniques with a bioprocess perspective. Protein crystallization and precipitation methods are already implemented in the downstream process of diverse therapeutic biological macromolecules, overcoming the current chromatographic bottlenecks. Promising work is being developed in order to implement crystallization and precipitation in the purification pipeline of high value therapeutic molecules. This review focuses in the role of these two methodologies in current industrial purification processes, and highlights their potential implementation in the purification pipeline of high value therapeutic molecules, overcoming chromatographic holdups.

Fernandes, CSM, Barbosa I, Castro R, Pina AS, Coroadinha AS, Barbas A, Roque ACA.  2016.  Retroviral particles are effectively purified on an affinity matrix containing peptides selected by phage-display. Biotechnology Journal. 11:1513–1524. Abstract


Ferreira, IMPLV, Pinho O, Monteiro D, Faria S, Cruz S, Perreira A, Roque ACA, Tavares P.  2010.  Short communication: effect of kefir grains on proteolysis of major milk proteins. Journal of Dairy Science. 93:27–31., Number 1 AbstractWebsite

The effect of kefir grains on the proteolysis of major milk proteins in milk kefir and in a culture of kefir grains in pasteurized cheese whey was followed by reverse {phase-HPLC} analysis. The reduction of kappa-, alpha-, and beta-caseins {(CN)}, alpha-lactalbumin {(alpha-LA)}, and beta-lactoglobulin {(beta-LG)} contents during 48 and 90 h of incubation of pasteurized milk {(100mL)} and respective cheese whey with kefir grains (6 and 12 g) at 20 degrees C was monitored. Significant proteolysis of {alpha-LA} and kappa-, alpha-, and beta-caseins was observed. The effect of kefir amount (6 and 12 {g/100mL)} was significant for {alpha-LA} and alpha- and {beta-CN.} {alpha-Lactalbumin} and {beta-CN} were more easily hydrolyzed than {alpha-CN.} No significant reduction was observed with respect to {beta-LG} concentration for 6 and 12 g of kefir in {100mL} of milk over 48 h, indicating that no significant proteolysis was carried out. Similar results were observed when the experiment was conducted over 90 h. Regarding the cheese whey kefir samples, similar behavior was observed for the proteolysis of {alpha-LA} and {beta-LG:} {alpha-LA} was hydrolyzed between 60 and 90% after 12h (for 6 and 12 g of kefir) and no significant {beta-LG} proteolysis occurred. The proteolytic activity of lactic acid bacteria and yeasts in kefir community was evaluated. Kefir milk prepared under normal conditions contained peptides from proteolysis of {alpha-LA} and kappa-, alpha-, and beta-caseins. Hydrolysis is dependent on the kefir:milk ratio and incubation time. {beta-Lactoglobulin} is not hydrolyzed even when higher hydrolysis time is used. Kefir grains are not appropriate as adjunct cultures to increase {beta-LG} digestibility in whey-based or whey-containing foods.

Fernandes, CSM, Castro R, Coroadinha AS, Roque ACA.  2016.  Small synthetic ligands for the enrichment of viral particles pseudotyped with amphotropic murine leukemia virus envelope. Journal of Chromatography A. 1438:160–170.: Elsevier B.V. AbstractWebsite

Retroviral vectors gained popularity toward other viral vectors as they integrate their genome into hosts' genome, a characteristic required for the modification of stem cells. However, the production of viable particles for gene therapy is hampered by the low ratio of infectious to non-infectious viral particles after purification, low titers and limited number of competent viral receptors. We have developed de novo two fully synthetic triazine-based ligands that can selectively bind retroviral particles pseudotyped with amphotropic murine leukemia virus envelope (AMPHO4070A). A 78-membered library of triazine-based ligands was designed in silico and was virtually screened against the modeled structure of the AMPHO4070A protein. Ligands displaying the highest energy of binding were synthesized on cross-linked agarose and experimentally tested. Adsorbents containing ligands A5A10 and A10A11 showed selectivity toward viral particles containing the target protein (VLP-AMPHO), binding 19 ± 5 $μ$g/g support and 47 ± 13 $μ$g/g support, respectively. The elution conditions for both ligands were mild and with high recovery yields (80-100{%}), in comparison with common purification practices. These results were based on a lab-scale experimental setting with VLP integrity being confirmed through TEM. In particular, the elution buffer containing 12 mM imidazole allowed the recovery of intact amphotropic viral particles.

Rodrigues, R, Palma SICJ, Correia VJ, Padrao I, Pais J, Banza M, Alves C, Deuermeier J, Martins C, Costa HMA, Ramou E, Silva Pereira C, Roque ACA.  2020.  Sustainable plant polyesters as substrates for optical gas sensors. Materials Today Bio. 8:100083. AbstractPDF

The fast and non-invasive detection of odors and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) by gas sensors and electronic
noses is a growing field of interest, mostly due to a large scope of potential applications. Additional drivers for the
expansion of the field include the development of alternative and sustainable sensing materials. The discovery
that isolated cross-linked polymeric structures of suberin spontaneously self-assemble as a film inspired us to
develop new sensing composite materials consisting of suberin and a liquid crystal (LC). Due to their stimuliresponsive and optically active nature, liquid crystals are interesting probes in gas sensing. Herein, we report
the isolation and the chemical characterization of two suberin types (from cork and from potato peels) resorting to
analyses of gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC-MS), solution nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), and Xray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS). The collected data highlighted their compositional and structural differences. Cork suberin showed a higher proportion of longer aliphatic constituents and is more esterified than potato
suberin. Accordingly, when casted it formed films with larger surface irregularities and a higher C/O ratio. When
either type of suberin was combined with the liquid crystal 5CB, the ensuing hybrid materials showed distinctive
morphological and sensing properties towards a set of 12 VOCs (comprising heptane, hexane, chloroform,
toluene, dichlormethane, diethylether, ethyl acetate, acetonitrile, acetone, ethanol, methanol, and acetic acid).
The optical responses generated by the materials are reversible and reproducible, showing stability for 3 weeks.
The individual VOC-sensing responses of the two hybrid materials are discussed taking as basis the chemistry of
each suberin type. A support vector machines (SVM) algorithm based on the features of the optical responses was
implemented to assess the VOC identification ability of the materials, revealing that the two distinct suberin-based
sensors complement each other, since they selectively identify distinct VOCs or VOC groups. It is expected that
such new environmentally-friendly gas sensing materials derived from natural diversity can be combined in arrays
to enlarge selectivity and sensing capacity.

Moreira, IP, Esteves C, Palma SICJ, Ramou E, Carvalho ALM, Roque ACA.  2022.  Synergy between silk fibroin and ionic liquids for active gas-sensing materials, jun. Materials Today Bio. 15:100290.: Elsevier AbstractPDFWebsite

Silk fibroin is a biobased material with excellent biocompatibility and mechanical properties, but its use in bioelectronics is hampered by the difficult dissolution and low intrinsic conductivity. Some ionic liquids are known to dissolve fibroin but removed after fibroin processing. However, ionic liquids and fibroin can cooperatively give rise to functional materials, and there are untapped opportunities in this combination. The dissolution of fibroin, followed by gelation, in designer ionic liquids from the imidazolium chloride family with varied alkyl chain lengths (2–10 carbons) is shown here. The alkyl chain length of the anion has a large impact on fibroin secondary structure which adopts unconventional arrangements, yielding robust gels with distinct hierarchical organization. Furthermore, and due to their remarkable air-stability and ionic conductivity, fibroin ionogels are exploited as active electrical gas sensors in an electronic nose revealing the unravelled possibilities of fibroin in soft and flexible electronics.

Esteves, C, Palma SICJ, Costa HMA, Alves C, Santos GMC, Ramou E, Carvalho AL, Alves V, Roque ACA.  2022.  Tackling Humidity with Designer Ionic Liquid-Based Gas Sensing Soft Materials, dec. Advanced Materials. 34:2107205., Number 8: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd AbstractPDFWebsite

Relative humidity is simultaneously a sensing target and a contaminant in gas and volatile organic compound (VOC) sensing systems, where strategies to control humidity interference are required. An unmet challenge is the creation of gas-sensitive materials where the response to humidity is controlled by the material itself. Here, humidity effects are controlled through the design of gelatin formulations in ionic liquids without and with liquid crystals as electrical and optical sensors, respectively. In this design, the anions [DCA]− and [Cl]− of room temperature ionic liquids from the 1-butyl-3-methylimidazolium family tailor the response to humidity and, subsequently, sensing of VOCs in dry and humid conditions. Due to the combined effect of the materials formulations and sensing mechanisms, changing the anion from [DCA]− to the much more hygroscopic [Cl]−, leads to stronger electrical responses and much weaker optical responses to humidity. Thus, either humidity sensors or humidity-tolerant VOC sensors that do not require sample preconditioning or signal processing to correct humidity impact are obtained. With the wide spread of 3D- and 4D-printing and intelligent devices, the monitoring and tuning of humidity in sustainable biobased materials offers excellent opportunities in e-nose sensing arrays and wearable devices compatible with operation at room conditions.

Pina, AS, Carvalho S, Dias AMGC, Guilherme M, Pereira AS, Caraça LT, Coroadinha AS, Lowe CR, Roque ACA.  2016.  Tryptophan tags and de novo designed complementary affinity ligands for the expression and purification of recombinant proteins. Journal of Chromatography A. 1472:55–65. AbstractWebsite

A common strategy for the production and purification of recombinant proteins is to fuse a tag to the protein terminal residues and employ a “tag-specific” ligand for fusion protein capture and purification. In this work, we explored the effect of two tryptophan-based tags, NWNWNW and WFWFWF, on the expression and purification of Green Fluorescence Protein (GFP) used as a model fusion protein. The titers obtained with the expression of these fusion proteins in soluble form were 0.11 mg ml−1 and 0.48 mg ml−1 for WFWFWF and NWNWNW, respectively. A combinatorial library comprising 64 ligands based on the Ugi reaction was prepared and screened for binding GFP-tagged and non-tagged proteins. Complementary ligands A2C2 and A3C1 were selected for the effective capture of NWNWNW and WFWFWF tagged proteins, respectively, in soluble forms. These affinity pairs displayed 106 M−1 affinity constants and Qmax values of 19.11 ± 2.60 ug g−1 and 79.39 ug g−1 for the systems WFWFWF AND NWNWNW, respectively. GFP fused to the WFWFWF affinity tag was also produced as inclusion bodies, and a refolding-on column strategy was explored using the ligand A4C8, selected from the combinatorial library of ligands but in presence of denaturant agents.

Hussain, A, Semeano ATS, Palma SICJ, Pina AS, Almeida J, Medrado BF, Pádua ACCS, Carvalho AL, Dionísio M, Li RWC, Gamboa H, Ulijn RV, Gruber J, Roque ACA.  2017.  Tunable Gas Sensing Gels by Cooperative Assembly. Advanced Functional Materials. 1700803:1–9. AbstractPDFWebsite

The cooperative assembly of biopolymers and small molecules can yield functional materials with precisely tunable properties. Here, the fabrication, characterization, and use of multicomponent hybrid gels as selective gas sensors are reported. The gels are composed of liquid crystal droplets self-assembled in the presence of ionic liquids, which further coassemble with biopolymers to form stable matrices. Each individual component can be varied and acts cooperatively to tune gels' structure and function. The unique molecular environment in hybrid gels is explored for supramolecular recognition of volatile compounds. Gels with distinct compositions are used as optical and electrical gas sensors, yielding a combinatorial response conceptually mimicking olfactory biological systems, and tested to distinguish volatile organic compounds and to quantify ethanol in automotive fuel. The gel response is rapid, reversible, and reproducible. These robust, versatile, modular, pliant electro-optical soft materials possess new possibilities in sensing triggered by chemical and physical stimuli.

Palma, SI, Rodrigues CA, Carvalho A, Morales PM, Freitas F, Fernandes AR, Cabral JS, Roque ACA.  2015.  A value-added exopolysaccharide as a coating agent for MRI nanoprobes. Nanoscale. (7):14272-14283. AbstractWebsite

Fucopol, a fucose-containing exopolysaccharide (EPS) produced by the bacterium Enterobacter A47 DSM 23139 using glycerol as a carbon source, was employed as a new coating material for iron oxide magnetic nanoparticles (MNP). The coated particles were assessed as nanoprobes for cell labeling by Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). The MNP were synthesized by a thermal decomposition method and transferred to aqueous medium by ligand-exchange reaction with meso-2,3-dimercaptosuccinic acid (DMSA). Covalent binding of EPS to DMSA-stabilized nanoparticles (MNP-DMSA) resulted in a hybrid magnetic-biopolymeric nanosystem (MNP-DMSA-EPS) with a hydrodynamic size of 170 nm, negative surface charge at physiological conditions and transverse to longitudinal relaxivities ratio, r2/r1, of 148. In vitro studies with two human cell lines (colorectal carcinoma - HCT116 - and neural stem/progenitor cells - ReNcell VM) showed that EPS promotes internalization of nanoparticles in both cell lines. In vitro MRI cell phantoms also showed superior performance of MNP-DMSA-EPS in ReNcell VM, for which iron dose-dependent MRI signal drop was obtained at relatively low iron concentrations (12 - 20 µg Fe/ml) and short incubation time. Furthermore, ReNcell VM multipotency was not affected by culture in the presence of MNP-DMSA or MNP-DMSA-EPS for 14 days. Our study suggests that Fucopol-coated MNP represent useful cell labeling nanoprobes for MRI.

Esteves, C, Palma S, Costa H, Alves C, Santos G, Ramou E, Roque AC.  2022.  VOC Sensing in Humid and Dry Environments, may. 2022 IEEE International Symposium on Olfaction and Electronic Nose (ISOEN). :1–3.: IEEE AbstractPDFWebsite

We report the development of gas-sensing multicomponent hybrid materials to be used under humidified and dried environments without the need of sample preconditioning or heavy signal processing. The easy tunability and the unique characteristics presented by the multicomponent hybrid materials suggests their use in nearterm applications in electronic nose systems able to operate in dry or humidified environments.