Nanotechnology Now





Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


DHgate

Home > Press > Penn Researchers Help Nanoscale Engineers Choose Self-Assembling Proteins

Abstract:
Engineering structures on the smallest possible scales - using molecules and individual atoms as building blocks - is both physically and conceptually challenging. An interdisciplinary team of researchers at the University of Pennsylvania has now developed a method of computationally selecting the best of these blocks, drawing inspiration from the similar behavior of proteins in making biological structures.

Penn Researchers Help Nanoscale Engineers Choose Self-Assembling Proteins

Philadelphia, PA | Posted on May 30th, 2011

The team was led by postdoctoral student Gevorg Grigoryan and professor William DeGrado of the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics in Penn's Perelman School of Medicine, as well as graduate student Yong Ho Kim of the Department of Chemistry in Penn's School of Arts and Sciences. Their colleagues included members of the Department of Physics and Astronomy in SAS.

Their research was published in the journal Science today.

The team set out to design proteins that could wrap around single-walled carbon nanotubes. Consisting of a cylindrical pattern of carbon atoms tens of thousands of times thinner than a human hair, nanotubes are enticing to nanoengineers as they are extraordinarily strong and could be useful as platform for other nano-structures.

"We wanted to achieve a specific geometric pattern of the atoms that these proteins are composed of on the surface of the nanotube," Grigoryan said. "If you know the underlying atomic lattice, it means that you know how to further build around it, how to attach things to it. It's like scaffolding for future building."

The hurdle in making such scaffolds isn't a lack of information, but a surfeit of it: researchers have compiled databases that list hundreds of thousands of actual and potential protein structures in atomic detail. Picking the building materials for a particular structure from this vast array and assuring that they self-assemble into the desired shape was beyond the abilities of powerful computers, much less humans.

"There's just an enormous space of structural possibilities to weed through trying to figure out which are feasible," Grigoryan said. "To have a process that can do that quickly, that can look at a structure and say ‘that's not reasonable, that can't be built out of common units,' would solve that problem."

The researchers' algorithm works in three steps, which, given the parameters of the desired scaffolding, successively eliminate proteins that will not produce the right shape. The elimination criteria were based on traits like symmetry, periodicity of binding sites and similarity to protein "motifs" found in nature.

After separating the wheat from the chaff, the result is a list of thousands of candidate proteins. While still a daunting amount, the algorithm makes the protein selection process merely difficult, rather than impossible.

The research team tested their algorithm by designing a protein that would not only stably wrap around a nanotube in a helix but also provide a regular pattern on its exterior to which gold particles could be attached.

"You could use this to build a gold nanowire, for instance, or modulate the optical properties of the underlying tube in desired ways" Grigoryan said.

Next steps will include applying this algorithm for designing proteins that can attach to graphene, which is essentially an unrolled nanotube. Being able to make scaffolds out of customizable array of proteins in a variety of shapes could lead to advances in everything from miniaturization of circuitry to drug delivery.

Engineering these materials in the lab requires a tremendous amount of precision and computational power, but such efforts are essentially mimicking a phenomenon found in even the simplest forms of life.

"The kind of packing that certain viruses have in their viral envelope is similar to what we have here in that they self-assemble. They have protein units that, on their own, form their complicated structures with features that are far beyond the size of any single protein," Grigoryan said. "Each protein doesn't know what the final structure is going to be, but it still helps form it. We were inspired by that."

In addition to Grigoryan, DeGrado and Kim, researchers included Rudresh Acharya of the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics in the Perelman School of Medicine and Kevin Axelrod, Rishabh M. Jain, Lauren Willis, Marija Drndic and James M. Kikkawa of the Department of Physics and Astronomy in SAS.

Their research was supported by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Michael Bezilla
Director
Research Communications Group
(814) 865-9481


Lisa Powers
Director
Public Information
(814) 865-7517

Copyright © Penn State

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

Harris & Harris Group Portfolio Company, AgBiome, Announces Partnership to Accelerate the Discovery of Next Generation Insect-Resistant Crops July 1st, 2015

Bruker Introduces Second-Generation Inspire Nanochemical Imaging Solution: Featuring Unique PeakForce IR and IR EasyAlign Technology July 1st, 2015

GLOBALFOUNDRIES Completes Acquisition of IBM Microelectronics Business: Transaction adds differentiating technologies, world-class technologists, and intellectual property July 1st, 2015

Samsung's New Graphene Technology Will Double Life Of Your Lithium-Ion Battery July 1st, 2015

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Proposed TSCA Nanomaterial Rule ‘Premature’, Says Former EPA Toxicologist July 1st, 2015

Carnegie Mellon chemists characterize 3-D macroporous hydrogels: Methods will allow researchers to develop new 'smart' materials June 30th, 2015

Graphene flexes its electronic muscles: Rice-led researchers calculate electrical properties of carbon cones, other shapes June 30th, 2015

X-rays and electrons join forces to map catalytic reactions in real-time: New technique combines electron microscopy and synchrotron X-rays to track chemical reactions under real operating conditions June 29th, 2015

Molecular Nanotechnology

$8.5M Grant For Developing Nano Printing Technology: 4-D printing to advance chemistry, materials sciences and defense capabilities June 18th, 2015

Injectable electronics: New system holds promise for basic neuroscience, treatment of neuro-degenerative diseases June 8th, 2015

One step closer to a single-molecule device: Columbia Engineering researchers first to create a single-molecule diode -- the ultimate in miniaturization for electronic devices -- with potential for real-world applications May 25th, 2015

Nature inspires first artificial molecular pump: Simple design mimics pumping mechanism of life-sustaining proteins found in living cells May 19th, 2015

Self Assembly

New conductive ink for electronic apparel June 25th, 2015

Giving atoms their marching orders: Highly homogeneous nanotube enforces single-file flow of atoms in gas diffusion. Direct comparison of single-file and Fickian diffusion possible with new system described by researchers at the University of South Carolina and University of Flor June 24th, 2015

n-tech Research Issues Report on Smart Coatings Market, Free Download Available on Firm’s Website June 24th, 2015

Sweeping lasers snap together nanoscale geometric grids: New technique creates multi-layered, self-assembled grids with fully customizable shapes and compositions June 23rd, 2015

Nanotubes/Buckyballs/Fullerenes

Cellulose from wood can be printed in 3-D June 17th, 2015

Researchers grind nanotubes to get nanoribbons: Rice-led experiments demonstrate solid-state carbon nanotube 'templates' June 15th, 2015

Environmental Issues to Hamper Growth of Global Nanocomposites Market June 4th, 2015

Carbon Nanotubes (CNT) Market Trends, Segments And Forecasts To 2022: Grand View Research, Inc June 1st, 2015

Announcements

Leti Announces Launch of First European Nanomedicine Characterisation Laboratory: Project Combines Expertise of 9 Partners in 8 Countries to Foster Nanomedicine Innovation and Facilitate Regulatory Approval July 1st, 2015

Bruker Introduces Second-Generation Inspire Nanochemical Imaging Solution: Featuring Unique PeakForce IR and IR EasyAlign Technology July 1st, 2015

GLOBALFOUNDRIES Completes Acquisition of IBM Microelectronics Business: Transaction adds differentiating technologies, world-class technologists, and intellectual property July 1st, 2015

Samsung's New Graphene Technology Will Double Life Of Your Lithium-Ion Battery July 1st, 2015

Research partnerships

Harris & Harris Group Portfolio Company, AgBiome, Announces Partnership to Accelerate the Discovery of Next Generation Insect-Resistant Crops July 1st, 2015

Leti Announces Launch of First European Nanomedicine Characterisation Laboratory: Project Combines Expertise of 9 Partners in 8 Countries to Foster Nanomedicine Innovation and Facilitate Regulatory Approval July 1st, 2015

Carnegie Mellon chemists characterize 3-D macroporous hydrogels: Methods will allow researchers to develop new 'smart' materials June 30th, 2015

Graphene flexes its electronic muscles: Rice-led researchers calculate electrical properties of carbon cones, other shapes June 30th, 2015

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More










ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project