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Self-Assembly of Functional Protein Nanosheets from Thermoresponsive Bolaamphiphiles

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posted on 2022-08-26, 14:06 authored by Dylan R. Dautel, Julie A. Champion
Nanosheets are two-dimensional materials, less than 100 nm thick, that can be used for separations, biosensing, and biocatalysis. Nanosheets can be made from inorganic and organic materials such as graphene, polymers, and proteins. Here, we report the self-assembly of nanosheets under aqueous conditions from functional proteins. The nanosheets are synthesized from two fusion proteins held together by high-affinity interactions of two leucine zippers to form bolaamphiphiles. The hydrophobic domain, ZR-ELP-ZR, contains the thermoresponsive elastin-like peptide (ELP) flanked by arginine-rich leucine zippers (ZR), each of which binds the hydrophilic fusion protein, globule-ZE, via the glutamate-rich leucine zipper (ZE) fused to a functional, globular protein. Nanosheets form when the proteins are mixed at 4 °C in aqueous solutions and then heated to 25 °C as the container is rotated end-over-end causing expansion and contraction of the air–water interface. The nanosheets are robust with respect to the choice of globular protein and can incorporate small fluorescent proteins that are less than 30 kDa as well as large enzymes, such as 80 kDa malate synthase G. Upon incorporation into nanosheets, enzymes retain more than 70% of their original activity, demonstrating the potential of protein nanosheets to be used for biosensing or biocatalytic applications.

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