The ability of bacteria to form biofilms and the emergence of antibiotic-resistant strains have prompted the need to develop the next generation of antibacterial coatings. Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) are showing promise as molecules that can address these issues, especially if used when immobilized as a surface coating. We present a method that explores how surface patterns together with the selective immobilization of an AMP called PuroA (FPVTWRWWKWWKG-NH2) can be used to both kill bacteria and also as a tool to study bacterial attachment mechanisms. Surface patterning is achieved using stabilized self-assembled binary colloidal crystal (BCC) layers, allowing selective PuroA immobilization to carboxylated particles using N-(3-dimethylaminopropyl)-N′-ethyl carbodiimide (EDC) hydrochloride/N-hydroxysuccinimide (NHS) coupling chemistry. Covalent immobilization of PuroA was compared with physical adsorption (i.e., without the addition of EDC/NHS). The AMP-functionalized colloids and BCC layers were characterized by X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, ζ potentials, and matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS). Surface antimicrobial activity was assessed by viability assays using Escherichia coli. MALDI-TOF MS analysis revealed that although not all of PuroA was successfully covalently immobilized, a relatively low density of PuroA (1.93 × 1013 molecules/cm2 and 7.14 × 1012 molecules/cm2 for covalent and physical immobilization, respectively) was found to be sufficient at significantly decreasing the viability of E. coli by 70% when compared to that of control samples. The findings provide a proof of concept that BCC layers are a suitable platform for the patterned immobilization of AMPs and the importance of ascertaining the success of small-molecule grafting reactions using surface-MALDI, something that is often assumed to be successful in the field.
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