Institute for Protein Design

Computational Design of Self-Assembling Protein Nanomaterials with Atomic Level Accuracy

June 1, 2012    King, N.P., Sheffler, W., et al. Science. 336(6085), 1171-1174. (2012)

Self Assembling NanomaterialsIPD researchers in the Baker group, described a general computational method for designing proteins that self-assemble to a desired symmetric architecture. Protein building blocks are docked together symmetrically to identify complementary packing arrangements, and low-energy protein-protein interfaces are then designed between the building blocks in order to drive self-assembly.  Dr. Neil King (IPD Translational Investigator) and members of the Baker group used trimeric protein building blocks to design a 24-subunit, 13-nm diameter complex with octahedral symmetry and a 12-subunit, 11-nm diameter complex with tetrahedral symmetry. The designed proteins assembled to the desired oligomeric states in solution, and the crystal structures of the complexes revealed that the resulting materials closely match the design models. The method can be used to design a wide variety of self-assembling protein nanomaterials.

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