Army scientists have discovered how to build novel synthetic biomolecule complexes that they believe are a critical step towards biotemplated advanced materials. Their work was recently featured in the March issue of Nature Chemistry.
A team of researchers from the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command's Army Research Laboratory, the Army's corporate research laboratory also known as ARL, and The University of Texas at Austin's Department of Molecular Biosciences, combined pairs of oppositely charged synthetic proteins to form hierarchical ordered, symmetrical structures through a strategy they termed as "supercharged protein assembly."
Dr. Jimmy Gollihar, a synthetic biology research scientist at ARL, along with University of Texas at Austin professors, Drs. Andrew Ellington and David W. Taylor, Jr., collaborated on this discovery.
The researchers said synthetic protein units had their surface charge artificially augmented to create either a positively or negatively charged protein unit to create supercharged proteins. This feature allowed the team to create self-assembled structures that are driven by charge alone.