Phase transitions as intermediate steps in the formation of molecularly engineered protein fibers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Researchers

Research units

  • VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland
  • Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces
  • Sappi Papier Holding GmbH

Abstract

A central concept in molecular bioscience is how structure formation at different length scales is achieved. Here we use spider silk protein as a model to design new recombinant proteins that assemble into fibers. We made proteins with a three-block architecture with folded globular domains at each terminus of a truncated repetitive silk sequence. Aqueous solutions of these engineered proteins undergo liquid–liquid phase separation as an essential pre-assembly step before fibers can form by drawing in air. We show that two different forms of phase separation occur depending on solution conditions, but only one form leads to fiber assembly. Structural variants with one-block or two block architectures do not lead to fibers. Fibers show strong adhesion to surfaces and self-fusing properties when placed into contact with each other. Our results show a link between protein architecture and phase separation behavior suggesting a general approach for understanding protein assembly from dilute solutions into functional structures.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Article number86
JournalCommunications Biology
Volume1
Publication statusPublished - 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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