Highly active protein surfaces enabled by plant-based polyphenol coatings

Ana M. L. Sousa, Tai-De Li, Sabu Varghese, Peter J. Halling, King Hang Aaron Lau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)
27 Downloads (Pure)


Proteins represent complex biomolecules capable of wide-ranging but also highly specific functionalities. Their immobilization on material supports can enable broad applications from sensing and industrial biocatalysis to biomedical interfaces and materials. We demonstrate the advantages of using aqueous-processed cross-linked polyphenol coatings for immobilizing proteins, including IgG, avidin, and various single and multidomain enzymes on diverse materials, to enable active biofunctional structures (e.g., ca. 2.2, 1.7, 1.1, and 4.8 mg·m–2 active phosphatase on nanoporous cellulose and alumina, steel mesh, and polyester fabric, respectively). Enzyme assays, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, silver staining, supplemented with contact angle, solid-state 13C NMR, HPLC, and ESI-MS measurements were used to characterize the polyphenols, coatings, and protein layers. We show that the functionalization process may be advantageously optimized directly for protein activity rather than the traditional focus on the thickness of the coating layer. Higher activities (by more than an order of magnitude in some cases) and wider process pH and material compatibility are demonstrated with polyphenol coatings than other approaches such as polydopamine. Coatings formed from different plant polyphenol extracts, even at lowered purity (and cost), were also found to be highly functional. Chemically, our results indicate that polyphenol coatings differ from polydopamine mainly because of the elimination of amine groups, and that polyphenol layers with intermediate levels of reactivity may better lead to high immobilized protein activity. Overall, an improved understanding of simple-to-use polyphenol coatings has been obtained, which enabled a significant development in active protein surfaces that may be applied across diverse materials and nanostructured supports.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39353-39362
Number of pages10
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number45
Early online date9 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - 14 Nov 2018


  • immobilisation
  • enzymes
  • proteins
  • polyphenols
  • tannic acid
  • XPS
  • alumina
  • cellulose
  • nanoporous materials
  • surface functionalisation


Dive into the research topics of 'Highly active protein surfaces enabled by plant-based polyphenol coatings'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this