Design of metal-binding sites onto self-assembled peptide fibrils

Emmanouil Kasotakis, Estelle Mossou, Lihi Adler-Abramovich, Edward P. Mitchell, V. Trevor Forsyth, Ehud Gazit, Anna Mitraki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The ability to develop a rational basis for the binding of inorganic materials to specific binding sites within self-assembling biological scaffolds has important applications in nanobiotechnology. Amyloid-forming peptides are a class of such scaffolds and show enormous potential as templates for the fabrication of low resistance, conducting nanowires. Here we report the use of a self-assembling peptide building block as scaffold for the systematic introduction of metal-binding residues at specific locations within the structure. The octapeptide NSGAITIG (Asparagine-Serine-Glycine-Alanine- Isoleucine-Threonine-Isoleucine-Glycine) from the fiber protein of adenovirus has been identified in previous structural studies as an elementary fibril-forming building block. Using this building block as a scaffold, we have designed three new cysteine-containing octa-peptides to study their eventual fibril-forming ability and potential templating of metal nanoparticles. We find that the cysteine substitutions do not alter the fibril-forming potential of the peptides, and that the fibrils formed bind efficiently to silver, gold, and platinum nanoparticles; furthermore, we report unexpected behavior of serine in nucleating gold and platinum nanoparticles. We find that combination of cysteine and serine residues projecting from adjacent sites on a peptide scaffold represents a potentially useful strategy in nucleating inorganic materials. The ability to reliably produce metal-coated fibrils is a vital first step towards the exploitation of these fibrils as conducting nanowires with applications in nano-circuitry. Short, biologically inspired self-assembling peptide scaffolds derived from natural fibrous proteins with known three-dimensional structure may provide a viable approach towards the rational design of inorganic nanowires.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)164-172
Number of pages9
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2009


  • Biological materials
  • Nanowires
  • Peptides
  • Protein design
  • Sef-assembly


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