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Tuning Assembly Size in Peptide-Based Supramolecular Polymers by Modulation of Subunit Association Affinity

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journal contribution
posted on 14.04.2014, 00:00 by Kaylyn M. Oshaben, W. Seth Horne
Nature uses proteins and nucleic acids to form a wide array of functional architectures, and scientists have found inspiration from these structures in the rational design of synthetic biomaterials. We have recently shown that a modular subunit consisting of two α-helical coiled coil peptides attached at their midpoints by an organic linking group can spontaneously self-assemble in aqueous solution to form a soluble supramolecular polymer. Here we explore the use of coiled-coil association affinity, readily tuned by amino acid sequence, as a means to predictably alter properties of these supramolecular assemblies. A series of dimeric coiled-coil peptide sequences with identical quaternary folded structures but systematically altered folded stability were designed and biophysically characterized. The sequences were cross-linked to generate a series of branched, self-assembling biomacromolecular subunits. A clear relationship is observed between coiled-coil association affinity and apparent hydrodynamic diameter of the supramolecular polymers formed by these subunits. Our results provide a family of soluble supramolecular polymers of tunable size and well-characterized coiled-coil sequences that add to the library of building blocks available for use in the rational design of protein-based supramolecular biomaterials.