Short peptides: versatile bricks for nanotechnology

Short peptides: versatile bricks for nanotechnology


March 6, 2012 - 11:00am


Howey N110

Self-assembly of amphiphilic peptides designed during the last ten years by different research  groups leads to a large variety of 3D-structures that already found applications in e.g. stabilization of large protein complexes, cell culturing systems etc. Our group has recently suggested a new type of short amphiphilic peptides that exhibits clear charge separation controllable by the pH of the environment. An intricate interplay between electrostatic and hydrophobic interactions and the packing parameter of the peptide molecule leads to a rich pattern of self-assembling behavior ranging from nucleated and pH-dependent self-assembly into tubular and spherical micelles up to pH-independent isodesmic polymerization into thin ribbons.

Another interesting development came from one of the short antimicrobial peptides (AMP), indolicidin. We found that indolicidin, as well as some of its derivatives can assemble on the DNA surface forming smooth and continuous coverage. In nature this phenomenon might be responsible for efficient knocking down the DNA replication and transcription processes in the invading cells while from nanotechnological prospective, it can help designing functional DNA electronics.

1. L. Gurevich, T.W. Poulsen, O. Z. Andersen, N. L. Kildeby and P. Fojan, “pH-dependent self-assembly of the short surfactant-like peptide KA6”, J.Nanoscience and Nanotechnology 10, 7946-7950 (2010)