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WIREs Nanomed Nanobiotechnol
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Protein‐based functional nanomaterial design for bioengineering applications

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In this review article, we describe recent progress in the field of protein‐based bionanomaterial design with focus on the four well‐characterized proteins: mammalian elastin and collagen, and insect‐derived silk and resilin. These proteins are important structural components and understanding their physical and biochemical properties has allowed us to not only replicate them but also create novel smart materials. The ‘smart’ properties of a material include its ability to self‐assemble, respond to stimuli, and/or promote cell interactions. Such properties can be attributed to unique structural modules from elastin, collagen, silk, and resilin as well as functional modules identified from other proteins directly or using display techniques such as phage display. Thus, the goal of this article is to not only emphasize the types of protein‐based peptide modules and their uses but also encourage and inspire the reader to create new toolsets of smart polypeptides to overcome their challenges. WIREs Nanomed Nanobiotechnol 2015, 7:69–97. doi: 10.1002/wnan.1303 This article is categorized under: Implantable Materials and Surgical Technologies > Nanomaterials and Implants Nanotechnology Approaches to Biology > Nanoscale Systems in Biology Biology-Inspired Nanomaterials > Protein and Virus-Based Structures
General approach to design protein‐based materials: (1) Once the design parameters such as self‐assembly, stimuli response, or specific mechanical properties are identified, primary sequence of the protein‐based polypeptide (PBP) can be designed using different structural and functional modules. The gene of interest can be formulated and constructed based on the designed primary sequence. (2) Next step is to insert the gene of interest into a genetic vector. The resulting genetic construct can then be transformed into an expression host such as Escherichia coli. (3) PBP can be expressed and purified from a batch culture of the engineered E. coli to obtain a homogeneous population of stock PBP with the intended properties.
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Example of the modularly synthesized protein‐based polypeptide (PBP) and graphene nanocomposite to show the light‐controlled motion of hydrogels. Images of the fingers of a hand‐shaped hydrogel, made of PBP‐graphene, bending and unbending in response to near‐infrared light stimulation. (Reprinted with permission from Ref . Copyright 2013 American Chemical Society)
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Resilin structure from Drosophila melanogaster. A single molecule of resilin (bottom right) contains three segments: elastic segment (yellow) from exon 1, chitin‐binding segment (gray) from exon 2, and energy‐storing segment (blue) from exon 3. Resilin molecules cross‐linked via dityrosine bridges organize into a nanocomposite structures due to self‐association of exon 3 protein segment and give insects remarkable abilities of locomotion, flight, and sound production. (Reprinted with permission from Ref . Copyright 2012 Nature Publishing Group)
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Schematic showing the different types of silks spun by spiders. Each type of silk has different modular domains that vary the strength, elasticity, and adhesiveness of the silk. (Reprinted with permission from Ref . Copyright 2013 John Wiley and Sons)
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Human collagen structures that are visualized using PDB: IBKV in two different forms: Space‐fill model (left) and ball and stick model (right).
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Elastin‐like polypeptide sequence and stimuli response. (a) Consensus sequence derived from tropoelastin (Val‐Pro‐Gly‐Val‐Gly) can be tandemly repeated to synthesize elastin‐like polypeptides (ELPs). (b) Stimuli‐responsive properties of the ELPs, which exhibit inverse temperature transition. They are highly soluble in low temperature and coacervate above low critical solution temperature (Tt). (Reprinted with permission from Ref . Copyright 2013 American Chemical Society)
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Biology-Inspired Nanomaterials > Protein and Virus-Based Structures
Implantable Materials and Surgical Technologies > Nanomaterials and Implants
Nanotechnology Approaches to Biology > Nanoscale Systems in Biology

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