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Charge Density as a Molecular Modulator of Nanostructuration in Intrinsically Disordered Protein Polymers

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journal contribution
posted on 2020-09-08, 14:05 authored by Sergio Acosta, Leander Poocza, Luis Quintanilla-Sierra, José Carlos Rodríguez-Cabello
Intrinsically disordered protein polymers (IDPPs) have attracted a lot of attention in the development of bioengineered devices and for use as study models in molecular biology because of their biomechanical properties and stimuli-responsiveness. The present study aims to understand the effect of charge density on the self-assembly of IDPPs. To that end, a library of recombinant IDPPs based on an amphiphilic diblock design with different charge densities was bioproduced, and their supramolecular assembly was characterized on the nano-, meso-, and microscale. Although the phase transition was driven by the collapse of hydrophobic moieties, the hydrophilic block composition strongly affected hierarchical assembly and, therefore, enabled the production of new molecular architectures, thus leading to new dynamics that govern the liquid–gel transition. These results highlight the importance of electrostatic repulsion for the hierarchical assembly of IDPPs and provide insights into the manufacture of supramolecular protein-based materials.