Self-Assembling Biomaterials for Nanotechnology

The folding and assembly of proteins into intricate supramolecular architectures is critical to many biological functions, ranging from cellular scaffolding provided by cytoskeletal proteins to the encapsulation of nucleic acids in viral capsids. Improvements in our understanding of protein assembly is enabling the creation of biomaterials that mimic and complement biological systems. The research projects in my laboratory use synthetic biology to build functional nanoscale materials and devices from self-assembling proteins.

The fabrication of nanoscale devices requires architectural templates upon which to position functional molecules in complex arrangements. Protein and DNA are attractive templates for nanofabrication due to their inherent self-assembly and molecular recognition capabilities. This project will engineer a new class of biotemplates that use DNA origami to link filamentous proteins into three-dimensional templates of controllable size and symmetry. Subsequently, these novel biotemplates will serve as a foundation upon which to build functional nanodevices including molecular machines and biosensors.

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