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Soft Biomade Materials: Modular Protein Polymers and their nano-assemblies

Final Report Summary - BIOMATE (Soft Biomade Materials: Modular Protein Polymers and their nano-assemblies)

Proteins are chain molecules built up from amino acids; the order in which these amino acids occur in the chain is stored in encoded form in DNA, through the genetic code, and is crucial for the physical behaviour and functionality of the molecule. The aim of this project was to generate a new biotechnological and nanotechnological toolbox of artificial (non-natural) proteins with special properties. For this, we make new amino acid polymers by constructing the corresponding DNA, and incorporate that in a suitable host organism (for which we use here the yeast Pichia pastoris) which will then produce it when properly stimulated. New polymers are constructed by combining two, three, or four items from a set of 11 elementary sequences or 'modules' (see Table of Motifs, Attach1), chosen because of their physical or biological properties. There are modules which fold and stack (forming nanofibrils), modules which link a number of chains (through triple helix formation or micellization), modules which solubilize by random coil repulsion, and modules which interact with a specific partner. From the 'toolbox' we construct new nanomaterials such as nanofibrillar materials, hydrogels suitable to accomodate human cells, coats and nanocarriers for therapeutics like DNA or enzymes, or liquid crystalline systems in which we can stimulate ordering of specific biomolecules such as DNA.