The research team based in Japan has designed new proteins that can self-assemble into the complex structures underlying biological organisms, laying the groundwork for leading-edge applications in biotechnology.

The researchers created and developed the proteins with a specific function and their method reveals a possibility that certain protein functions can be created on demand. The study was published in  Synthetic Biology, a peer-reviewed journal published by the American Chemical Society (ACS).

Biomolecules

All organisms contain self-assembling biomolecules including proteins, nucleic acids, sugars, and lipids. The ability to design and control such assemblies is a central goal of biomolecular engineering, nanobiotechnology, and synthetic biology.

Artificial Protein

Researchers developed a simple and stable artificial protein, called WA20, in 2012. By 2015, the researchers progressed to Protein Nanobuilding Blocks (PN-Blocks), which use WA20 to self-assemble into multiple nanostructures.

The researchers built on that success to develop extender PN-Blocks, which link WA20 proteins together to produce chain-like protein complexes and even more nanostructures. The design and construction of self-assembling PN-Blocks is a useful strategy they are like LEGO blocks.

The scientists linked two WA20 proteins in tandem (ePN-Block), creating oligomeric structures. Another PN-Block (sPN-Block) intervened, affecting the structures to be different, varied chain-like complexes on demand.

Supramolecular Complexes

Getting these complexes together, the supramolecular nanostructure complexes were achieved by introducing a metal ion, which triggered the process through further self-assembly. The researchers plan to create a variety of stable and functional complex nanostructures through the combination of various PN-Blocks. The potential of PN-Blocks has been increased even more now that more complexes can evolve with the help of metal ions.

These results demonstrate that the PN-Block strategy is a useful and systematic strategy for constructing novel nano-architectures, noting that the ability to construct novel complexes is particularly important in biotechnology and synthetic biology.

Nanobiomaterials

The next step is for the researchers to further develop nanostructures to contribute to the development of nanobiomaterials, which could be used as a drug delivery system or to create useful proteins for the bio-pharmaceutical investigation, such as artificial vaccine in an environmentally friendly way.