Two type II fungal hydrophobins, HFBI and FpHYD5, have been studied as aqueous lubricant additive at a nonpolar, compliant sliding contact (self-mated poly(dimethylsiloxane) (PDMS) contact) at two different concentrations, 0.1 mg/mL and 1.0 mg/mL. The two hydrophobins are featured as non-glycosylated (HFBI, m.w. ca. 7 kDa) vs glycosylated (FpHYD5, m.w. ca. 10 kDa) proteins. Far UV CD spectra of the two hydrophobins were very similar, suggesting overall structural similarity, but showed a noticeable difference according to the concentration. This is proposed to be related to the formation of multimers at 1.0 mg/mL. Despite ten-fold difference in the bulk concentration, the adsorbed masses of the hydrophobins onto PDMS surface obtained from the two solutions (0.1 and 1.0 mg/mL) were nearly identical, suggesting that a monolayer of the hydrophobins are formed from 0.1 mg/mL solution. PDMS-PDMS sliding interface was effectively lubricated by the hydrophobin solutions, and showed a reduction in the coefficient of friction by as much as ca. two orders of magnitude. Higher concentration solution (1.0 mg/mL) provided a superior lubrication, particularly in low-speed regime, where boundary lubrication characteristic is dominant via ‘self-healing’ mechanism. FpHYD5 revealed a better lubrication than HFBI presumably due to the presence of glycans and improved hydration of the sliding interface. Two type II hydrophobins function more favorably compared to a synthetic amphiphilic copolymer, PEO-PPO-PEO, with a similar molecular weight. This is ascribed to higher amount of adsorption of the hydrophobins to hydrophobic surfaces from aqueous solution.
Bibliographical noteThe authors are grateful for the financial support from the Danish Council for Independent Research (DFF), Technology and Production Sciences (FTP) (10-082707), European Research Council (Funding scheme, ERC Starting Grant 2010, Project number 261152), and COST Action program (TD1003, Bioinspired Nanotechnologies).