Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

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 Ďthat'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

A step closer to understanding quantum mechanics: Swansea Universityís physicists develop a new quantum simulation protocol October 22nd, 2017

Creation of coherent states in molecules by incoherent electrons October 21st, 2017

Strange but true: turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer October 20th, 2017

Leti Coordinating Project to Develop Innovative Drivetrains for 3rd-generation Electric Vehicles: CEA Techís Contribution Includes Litenís Knowhow in Magnetic Materials and Simulation And Letiís Expertise in Wide-bandgap Semiconductors October 20th, 2017

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Leti Coordinating Project to Develop Innovative Drivetrains for 3rd-generation Electric Vehicles: CEA Techís Contribution Includes Litenís Knowhow in Magnetic Materials and Simulation And Letiís Expertise in Wide-bandgap Semiconductors October 20th, 2017

Bringing the atomic world into full color: Researchers turn atomic force microscope measurements into color images October 19th, 2017

Long nanotubes make strong fibers: Rice University researchers advance characterization, purification of nanotube wires and films October 17th, 2017

Spinning strands hint at folding dynamics: Rice University lab uses magnetic beads to model microscopic proteins, polymers October 17th, 2017

Molecular Nanotechnology

Spinning strands hint at folding dynamics: Rice University lab uses magnetic beads to model microscopic proteins, polymers October 17th, 2017

Assembly of nanoparticles proceeds like a zipper: Viruses and nanoparticles can be assembled into processable superlattice wires according to scientists from Aalto University Finland September 25th, 2017

First 3-D observation of nanomachines working inside cells: Researchers headed by IRB Barcelona combine genetic engineering, super-resolution microscopy and biocomputation to allow them to see in 3-D the protein machinery inside living cells January 27th, 2017

Captured on video: DNA nanotubes build a bridge between 2 molecular posts: Research may lead to new lines of direct communication with cells January 9th, 2017

Self Assembly

Physicists gain new insights into nanosystems with spherical confinement: Enormous potential for the targeted delivery of pharmaceutical agents and the creation of tailored nanoparticles July 27th, 2017

Oddball enzyme provides easy path to synthetic biomaterials May 17th, 2017

Nanotubes that build themselves April 14th, 2017

Nanocages for gold particles: what is happening inside? March 16th, 2017

Nanotubes/Buckyballs/Fullerenes/Nanorods

Long nanotubes make strong fibers: Rice University researchers advance characterization, purification of nanotube wires and films October 17th, 2017

How to draw electricity from the bloodstream: A one-dimensional fluidic nanogenerator with a high power-conversion efficiency September 11th, 2017

Silk could improve sensitivity, flexibility of wearable body sensors August 20th, 2017

Regulation of two-dimensional nanomaterials: New driving force for lithium-ion batteries July 26th, 2017

Announcements

A step closer to understanding quantum mechanics: Swansea Universityís physicists develop a new quantum simulation protocol October 22nd, 2017

Creation of coherent states in molecules by incoherent electrons October 21st, 2017

Strange but true: turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer October 20th, 2017

Leti Coordinating Project to Develop Innovative Drivetrains for 3rd-generation Electric Vehicles: CEA Techís Contribution Includes Litenís Knowhow in Magnetic Materials and Simulation And Letiís Expertise in Wide-bandgap Semiconductors October 20th, 2017

Research partnerships

Novel 'converter' heralds breakthrough in ultra-fast data processing at nanoscale: Invention bagged four patents and could potentially make microprocessor chips work 1,000 times faster October 20th, 2017

Strange but true: turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer October 20th, 2017

Leti Coordinating Project to Develop Innovative Drivetrains for 3rd-generation Electric Vehicles: CEA Techís Contribution Includes Litenís Knowhow in Magnetic Materials and Simulation And Letiís Expertise in Wide-bandgap Semiconductors October 20th, 2017

Bringing the atomic world into full color: Researchers turn atomic force microscope measurements into color images October 19th, 2017

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