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Structural Stability and Binding Strength of a Designed Peptide–Carbon Nanotube Hybrid

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posted on 12.12.2013, 00:00 by Daniel Roxbury, Shao-Qing Zhang, Jeetain Mittal, William F. DeGrado, Anand Jagota
Biological polymers hybridized with single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) have elicited much interest recently for applications in SWCNT-based sorting as well as biomedical imaging, sensing, and drug delivery. Recently, de novo designed peptides forming a coiled-coil structure have been engineered to selectively disperse SWCNT of a certain diameter. Here, we report on a study of the binding strength and structural stability of the hybrid between such a “HexCoil-Ala” peptide and the (6,5)-SWCNT. Using the competitive binding of a surfactant, we find that affinity strength of the peptide ranks in comparison to that of two single-stranded DNA sequences as (GT)30-DNA > HexCoil-Ala > (TAT)4T-DNA. Further, using replica exchange molecular dynamics (REMD), we show that the hexamer peptide complex has both similarities with and differences from the original design. While one of two distinct helix–helix interfaces of the original model was largely retained, a second interface showed much greater variability. These conformational differences allowed an aromatic tyrosine residue designed to lie along the solvent-exposed surface of the protein instead to penetrate between the two helices and directly contact the SWCNT. These insights will inform future designs of SWCNT-interacting peptides.

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