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Artificial microtubules based on switchable cyclic peptides

Project description

Novel life-like materials

Microtubules are part of the cell cytoskeleton and demonstrate the capacity to assemble and break down depending on the requirements of the cell. Materials science has tried to mimic the self-assembly capacity of microtubules by designing artificial supramolecular polymers, which, however, fall behind in terms of mechanical properties. To address this, the EU-funded CYCLOTUBES project is employing cyclic peptides that can switch between the assembled and disassembled state using chemicals or enzymes. The performance of these artificial microtubules will be monitored in a cell-like environment using microscopy and has the potential to lead to innovative materials with novel mechanical properties.

Objective

Naturally occurring living materials, for e.g. the cell cytoskeleton, consist of intricate supramolecular polymers whose self-assembly is controlled by high energy molecules such as guanosine triphosphate GTP. MiNaturally occurring living materials, such as the cell cytoskeleton, consist of intricate supramolecular polymers whose self-assembly is controlled by high energy molecules such as guanosine triphosphate GTP. Microtubules for example, are incredibly strong, but because they are chemically fueled by GTP, they can be built up or broken down at specific times and locations inside the cell. The tubules are in so-called non-equilibrium steady states, and are kept away from the thermodynamic equilibrium for extended periods of time. In the recent years, artificial supramolecular polymers have been made that are transiently out-of-equilibrium by addition of a single shot of chemical fuel, or for long times by continuous addition of fuel and removal of waste. The mechanical properties of the latter artificial systems are quite poor in comparison with real microtubules. The aim of this CYCLOTUBES project is to make artificial microtubules from cyclic peptides that can chemically or enzymatically be switched between the assembled and disassembled state. To this end, we will use oxidation and reduction reactions in a cell-like environment, that is, in a membrane enclosed chamber. In the latter, chemical fuel can be added and waste be removed continuously. In addition, the assembly/disassembly of the artificial tubules can be monitored using microscopy. Our work will give fundamentally new insights into out-of-equilibrium self-assembly, and could lead to novel life-like materials that are capable of performing significant mechanical work due to the unique mechanical properties of the cyclic peptide tubules. The candidate will work at the forefront of the field of systems chemistry and supramolecular chemistry, which are very important for the competitiveness of Europe.

Coordinator

UNIVERSITE DE STRASBOURG
Net EU contribution
€ 184 707,84
Address
RUE BLAISE PASCAL 4
67081 Strasbourg
France

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Region
Grand Est Alsace Bas-Rhin
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
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Total cost
€ 184 707,84