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Nano Arrayed Systems based on Self Assembling Proteins (NAS-SAP) - Publishable Executive Summary

Project ID: 13523
Funded under: FP6-NMP


Nanobiotechnology is an important and exciting discipline falling under the new science of nanotechnology. This field emerges from physics-based nanotechnology and harnesses all that we currently know from biology and particularly the molecular biosciences. At the forefront of these technologies are the study of molecular motors, protective coatings and novel delivery vehicles. In each case what we have learnt from nature can be applied to industrial use, whether this be electronics, medicine or the pharmaceutical industry.
Microroganisms have been studied extensively and offer a number of attributes that are of interest to the nanoscientist, these include the bacterial flagellum, the eukaryotic cytoskeleton, molecular glues or adhesions to name a few examples. The NAS-SAP consortium is focused on the surface structures of bacteria, specifically, the so-called, S-layers of bacteria and the spore coats of endospores.
S-layers are normally homogenous layers of self-assembled protomers. These self-assembled molecules form a single layer covering too many bacteria. Although the precise function of these surface (S) layers is not fully understand we do know they are important for protection of the microbe from environmental insult as well as adhesion. In most cases the protein components are known and vary in size from about 60-100 kDa. High-resolution imaging methods have been used to demonstrate the crystalline arrangement of S-layer nanoarrays. From an application point of view individual S-layer proteins can be made to self-assemble alone or in a variety of solid substrates as well as on phospholipids vesicles. Clearly, this is importance for the deliberate and precise arrangement of molecules tethered to S-layer proteins, as well as the packaging of pharmaceuticals and vaccines.

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