Multiscale Simulation of Protein Corona Formation on Silver Nanoparticles: Study of Ovispirin-1 Peptide Adsorption

J Phys Chem B. 2022 Jan 13. doi: 10.1021/acs.jpcb.1c08267. Online ahead of print.


The exposure of nanoparticles (NPs) to biofluids leads to the rapid coverage of proteins, named protein corona, which alters the NPs' chemicophysical and biological properties. Fundamental studies of the protein corona are thus critical to the increasing applications of NPs in nanotechnology and nanomedicines. The present work utilizes multiscale simulations of a model biological system, small ovispirin-1 peptides, and bare silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) to examine the NPs' size and surface hydrophilicity effects on formation dynamics and the structure of the peptide corona. Our simulations revealed the different adsorption dynamics of ovispirin-1 peptides on the NPs, including the direct adsorption of a single peptide and peptide aggregates and multistep adsorption, as well as an intermediate cycle of desorption and readsorption. Notably, the whole process of peptide adsorption on hydrophilic AgNP surfaces can be generalized as three stages: diffusion to the surface, initial landing via hydrophilic residues, and the final attachment. The decrease in AgNP's size leads to faster adsorption with more heterogeneous peptide interfacial dynamics, a denser and inhomogeneous peptide packing structure, and a wider distribution of adsorption orientations. Subsequent atomistic molecular dynamics simulations demonstrated that on the hydrophilic AgNP surfaces, adsorbed peptides display moderate changes in their secondary structure, resulting in further changes of corona composition, i.e., amino acid residue distribution on the surface.