A series of oligopeptides with β-forming and adhesive properties, were synthesized and analyzed for adhesion shear strength, secondary structure, and association properties. The sequences contained related hydrophobic core segments varying in length from 5 to 12 residues and flanked by di- or tri-lysine segments. Three remarkable peptides consisting of just 11 residues with hydrophobic core sequences of FLIVI, IGSII, and IVIGS flanked by three lysine residues gave the highest dry adhesion shear strength and displayed unusual biophysical properties in the presence and absence of water. KKKFLIVIKKK had its highest adhesion strength at 2% (w/v) at pH 12.0 and showed the highest adhesion strength after exposure to water (water resistance). Both KKKIGSIIKKK and KKKIVIGSKKK, at 4% (w/v) at pH 12.0, displayed nearly identical dry shear strength values to that with the FLIVI core sequence. The peptide with IGSII core, however, displayed a lower water resistance and the latter, IVIGS, showed no water resistance, completely delaminating upon soaking in water. These are the smallest peptides with adhesive properties reported to date and show remarkable adhesion strength even at lower concentrations of 0.2% (w/v), which corresponds to 1.6 mM. The FLIVI containing peptide adopted a β-sheet secondary structure in water while the IGSII- and IVIGS-containing sequences folded similarly only in the absence of water. Analytical ultracentrifugation studies showed that when the FLIVI sequence adopts β-structure in aqueous solution, it associates into a large molecular weight assembly. The random coils of IGSII and IVIGS showed no tendency to associate at any pH.
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