A route for constructing protein nanomachines engineered for specific applications may be closer to reality.
Biological systems produce an incredible array of self-assembling, functional protein tools. Some examples of these nanoscale protein materials are scaffolds to anchor cellular activities, molecular motors to drive physiological events, and capsules for delivering viruses into host cells.
Scientists inspired by these sophisticated molecular machines want to build their own, with forms and functions customized to tackle modern-day challenges.
The ability to design new protein nanostructures could have useful implications in targeted delivery of drugs, in vaccine development and in plasmonics—manipulating electromagnetic signals to guide light diffraction for information technologies, energy production or other uses.
A recently developed computational method may be an important step toward that goal. The project was led by the University of Washington's Neil King, translational investigator; Jacob Bale, graduate student in Molecular and Cellular Biology; and William Sheffler in David Baker's laboratory at the University of Washington Institute for Protein Design, in collaboration with colleagues at UCLA and Janelia Farm.
Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2014-06-self-assembling-protein-nanomachines-click.html#jCp