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Biologically Synthesized Proteins that Spontaneously Self-Assemble into Nano-scale structures

Researchers from Duke University have
developed biologically
proteins that can form nano-scale
structures of various sizes, shapes, and behaviors.

These proteins, called elastin-like
polypeptide block copolymers, spontaneously self-assemble into
different structures based on their interactions with other proteins and water. By
changing their sequence, the researchers can control the shape and behavior of
the structures that they form.

These self-assembling proteins can be
used to deliver toxic therapeutics to disease sites or to
develop artificial cells.

A paper titled “Noncanonical
Self-Assembly of Highly Asymmetric Genetically Encoded Polypeptide Amphiphiles
into Cylindrical Micelles” presenting this work was published in the journal
Nano Letters in November, 2014.

Electron micrograph of structures formed by self-assembling proteinsSchematic showing protein self-assembly