Scientists develop proteins that self-assemble into supramolecular complexes

July 20, 2018, Shinshu University
The design of novel proteins that self-assemble into supramolecular complexes is important for development in nanobiotechnology and synthetic biology. Credit: © 2018, American Chemical Society

A collaborative research team based in Japan has designed new proteins that can self-assemble into the complex structures underlying biological organisms, laying the groundwork for leading-edge applications in biotechnology. The researchers created and developed the proteins with a specific function, and their method reveals a possibility that certain protein functions can be created on demand.

The scientists published their results on April 24th in Synthetic Biology, a peer-reviewed journal published by the American Chemical Society (ACS).

"All organisms contain self-assembling biomolecules including proteins, nucleic acids, sugars, and lipids," wrote Ryoichi Arai in the paper. Arai is the head of the department of supramolecular complexes in the Research Center for Fungal and Microbial Dynamism at Shinshu University in Japan. "The ability to design and control such assemblies is a central goal of biomolecular engineering, nanobiotechnology, and synthetic biology."

Arai and his team developed a simple and stable artificial protein, called WA20, in 2012. By 2015, the researchers progressed to protein nanobuilding blocks (PN-Blocks), which use WA20 to self-assemble into multiple nanostructures. The researchers built on that success to develop extender PN-Blocks, which link WA20 proteins together to produce chain-like complexes and even more nanostructures.

"The design and construction of self-assembling PN-Blocks is a useful strategy—they're like LEGO blocks," Arai said, referring to the plastic toy blocks that can be built into vastly different structures despite how little they individually vary.

The scientists linked two WA20 proteins in tandem (ePN-Block), creating oligomeric structures. Another PN-Block (sPN-Block) intervened, affecting the structures to be different, varied chain-like complexes on demand. The supramolecular complexes were achieved by introducing a metal ion, which triggered the process through further self-assembly.

The researchers plan to create a variety of stable and functional complex nanostructures through the combination of PN-Blocks. The potential of PN-Blocks has been increased even more now that more complexes can evolve with the help of metal ions.

"These results demonstrate that the PN-Block strategy is a useful and systematic strategy for constructing novel nano-architectures," Arai said, noting that the ability to construct novel complexes is particularly important in biotechnology and .

The next step is further developing nanostructures to contribute to the development of nanobiomaterials, which could be used as a drug delivery system or to create useful proteins for bio-pharmaceutical investigation, such as artificial vaccines, in an environmentally friendly way.

Explore further: Minimalist biostructures designed to create nanomaterials

More information: Naoya Kobayashi et al, Self-Assembling Supramolecular Nanostructures Constructed from de Novo Extender Protein Nanobuilding Blocks, ACS Synthetic Biology (2018). DOI: 10.1021/acssynbio.8b00007

Related Stories

Minimalist biostructures designed to create nanomaterials

June 15, 2018

Researchers of the Institute of Biotechnology and Biomedicine (IBB-UAB) have generated four peptides, molecules smaller than proteins, capable of self-assembling in a controlled manner to form nanomaterials. The research, ...

The making of biorelevant nanomaterials

January 3, 2018

The interactions of biological macromolecules such as nucleic acids, proteins, and polysaccharide–protein conjugates can be mimicked by artificial polyelectrolytes. Such synthetic polyionic complexes are expected to serve ...

Recommended for you

Archaeologists discover Incan tomb in Peru

February 16, 2019

Peruvian archaeologists discovered an Incan tomb in the north of the country where an elite member of the pre-Columbian empire was buried, one of the investigators announced Friday.

Where is the universe hiding its missing mass?

February 15, 2019

Astronomers have spent decades looking for something that sounds like it would be hard to miss: about a third of the "normal" matter in the Universe. New results from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory may have helped them ...

What rising seas mean for local economies

February 15, 2019

Impacts from climate change are not always easy to see. But for many local businesses in coastal communities across the United States, the evidence is right outside their doors—or in their parking lots.

The friendly extortioner takes it all

February 15, 2019

Cooperating with other people makes many things easier. However, competition is also a characteristic aspect of our society. In their struggle for contracts and positions, people have to be more successful than their competitors ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.