CORDIS - Forschungsergebnisse der EU

Multicomponent Protein Cage Co-Crystals

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ProCrystal (Multicomponent Protein Cage Co-Crystals)

Berichtszeitraum: 2021-09-01 bis 2023-02-28

The development of next-generation biomaterials is critical for addressing needs related to healthcare, environmental sustainability and economic growth. However, the simple conjugation of classic synthetic materials such as polymers with biomolecules is insufficient to support the current requirements for advanced materials. Therefore, inspired by the elegant examples from living organisms on how accurately structured macromolecular systems can be realized, hierarchical and multicomponent self-assembled biomaterials are seen as reliable and efficient candidates.

Here, the strategies and fabrication methods to produce multicomponent crystals consisting of one protein cage and another oppositely charged synthetic material are pursued. By screening the building blocks and self-assembly conditions, hierarchically ordered 3D structures with different advanced functionalities are achieved, for example, catalysis, plasmonics, and sequestration of chemicals. Furthermore, the understanding of the underlying principles behind the self-assembly process and the resulting structure-function relationship will shed light on the design and engineering of more complex and functional biomaterials.
In the course of the project, we have synthesized the required agents for multicomponent protein cage co-crystals, including cationic ferritin and macrocycles (pillararenes and cyclodextrins). Cationic ferritin was employed to form binary crystals with negatively charged Cowpea Chlorotic Mottle Virus (CCMV) protein cages. Moreover, by incorporating gold and iron oxide particles into separate protein cages, we have explored extending the approach to create 3D magneto-plasmonic crystals. Meanwhile, the cationic macrocycles have been successfully utilized to co-crystalize with apoferritin cages for capturing inorganic and organic pollutants through host-guest chemistry. Finally, we achieved the sol-gel synthesis of mesoporous silica materials with crystalline periodicity using the apoferritin single crystals as the template.
Superlattices utilizing diverse configurations of protein cages have been extensively documented. However, creating large 3D binary nanoparticle superlattices without DNA assistance still poses a considerable challenge. Moreover, research exploring how the 3D crystal structure contributes to the distinctive functions of these materials, is yet to be conducted. This project represents a groundbreaking achievement, as we have successfully synthesized 3D magnetoplasmonic crystals utilizing two distinct protein cages (ferritin and CCMV). This accomplishment is expected to provide valuable insights into both multicomponent protein crystal formation and magnetoplasmonic materials. To make this system more comprehensive, we have also prepared other 3D ordered protein crystals. These include crystals for simultaneous organic and inorganic host-guest chemistry and protein cage-templated silica growth by sol-gel chemistry.
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