Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Faculty Research


Concepts and Schemes for the Re-engineering of Physical Protein Modules: Generating Nanodevices via Targeted Replacements with Constrained Amino Acids

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Publication Date

Fall 2006


Physically building complex multi-molecular structures from naturally occurring biological macromolecules has aroused a great deal of interest. Here we focus on nanostructures composed of re-engineered, natural 'foldamer' building blocks. Our aim is to provide some of the underlying concepts and schemes for crafting structures utilizing such conformationally relatively stable molecular components. We describe how, via chemical biology strategies, it is further possible to chemically manipulate the foldamer building blocks toward specific shape-driven structures, which in turn could be used toward potential-designed functions. We outline the criteria in choosing candidate foldamers from the vast biological repertoire, and how to enhance their stability through selected targeted replacements by non-proteinogenic conformationally constrained amino acids. These approaches combine bioinformatics, high performance computations and mathematics with synthetic organic chemistry. The resulting artificially engineered self-organizing molecular scale structures take advantage of nature's nanobiology toolkit and at the same time improve on it, since their new targeted function differs from that optimized by evolution. The major challenge facing nanobiology is to be able to exercise fine control over the performance of these target-specific molecular machines. PMID: 16582465 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]





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