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Thermoresponsive Micellar Assembly Constructed from a Hexameric Hemoprotein Modified with Poly(N‑isopropylacrylamide) toward an Artificial Light-Harvesting System

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posted on 15.01.2020, 21:29 by Shota Hirayama, Koji Oohora, Takayuki Uchihashi, Takashi Hayashi
Artificial protein assemblies inspired by nature have significant potential in development of emergent functional materials. In order to construct an artificial protein assembly, we employed a mutant of a thermostable hemoprotein, hexameric tyrosine-coordinated heme protein (HTHP), as a building block. The HTHP mutant which has cysteine residues introduced on the bottom surface of its columnar structure was reacted with maleimide-tethering thermoresponsive poly­(N-isopropylacrylamide), PNIPAAm, to generate the protein assembly upon heating. The site-specific modification of the cysteine residues with PNIPAAm on the protein surface was confirmed by SDS-PAGE and analytical size exclusion chromatography (SEC). The PNIPAAm-modified HTHP (PNIPAAm-HTHP) is found to provide a 43 nm spherical structure at 60 °C, and the structural changes observed between the assembled and the disassembled forms were duplicated at least five times. High-speed atomic force microscopic measurements of the micellar assembly supported by cross-linkage with glutaraldehyde indicate that the protein matrices are located on the surface of the sphere and cover the inner PNIPAAm core. Furthermore, substitution of heme with a photosensitizer, Zn protoporphyrin IX (ZnPP), in the micellar assembly provides an artificial light-harvesting system. Photochemical measurements of the ZnPP-substituted micellar assembly demonstrate that energy migration among the arrayed ZnPP molecules occurs within the range of several tens of picoseconds. Our present work represents the first example of an artificial light-harvesting system based on an assembled hemoprotein oligomer structure to replicate natural light-harvesting systems.