Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, Vol.102, No.21, 9159-9170, 2018
A novel "trifunctional protease" with reducibility, hydrolysis, and localization used for wool anti-felting treatment
Proteases can cause unacceptable fiber damage when they are singly applied to wool anti-felting treatment which can make wool textiles machine-washable. Even if protease is attached by synthetic polymers, the modified protease plays a limited role in the degradation of keratin with dense structure consisting of disulfide bonds in the scales. Here, to obtain machine-washable wool textiles, a novel trifunctional protease with reducibility, hydrolysis, and localization is developed by means of covalent bonding of protease molecules with poly (ethylene glycol) bis (carboxymethyl) ether (HOOC-PEG-COOH) and L-cysteine using carbodiimide/N-hydroxysuccinimide (EDC/NHS) coupling, aiming at selectively degrading the scales on the surface of wool. The formation of polymer is confirmed with size exclusion chromatography (SEC) and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR). Ellman's test and fluorescence microscopy reveal that the modified protease can reduce disulfide bonds and restrict hydrolysis of peptide bonds on the wool scales. Furthermore, when applied to wool fabrics, the modified protease reach better treatment effects considering dimensional stability to felting (6.12%), strength loss (11.7%) and scale dislodgement proved by scanning electron microscopy (SEM), alkali solubility, wettability, and dyeability. This multifunctional enzyme is well-designed according to the requirement of the modification of wool surface, showing great potential for eco-friendly functionalization of keratin fibers rich in disulfide linkage.