Engineered Diblock Polypeptides Improve DNA and Gold Solubility during Molecular Assembly

Nicole A. Estrich*, Armando Hernandez-Garcia, Renko De Vries, Thomas H. LaBean

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Programmed molecular recognition is being developed for the bionanofabrication of mixed organic/inorganic supramolecular assemblies for applications in electronics, photonics, and medicine. For example, DNA-based nanotechnology seeks to exploit the easily programmed complementary base-pairing of DNA to direct assembly of complex, designed nanostructures. Optimal solution conditions for bionanofabrication, mimicking those of biological systems, may involve high concentrations of biomacromolecules (proteins, nucleic acids, etc.) and significant concentrations of various ions (Mg2+, Na+, Cl-, etc.). Given a desire to assemble diverse inorganic components (metallic nanoparticles, quantum dots, carbon nanostructures, etc.), it will be increasingly difficult to find solution conditions simultaneously compatible with all components. Frequently, the use of chemical surfactants is undesirable, leaving a need for the development of alternative strategies. Herein, we discuss the use of artificial, diblock polypeptides in the role of solution compatibilizing agents for molecular assembly. We describe the use of two distinct diblock polypeptides with affinity for DNA in the stabilization of DNA origami and DNA-functionalized gold nanoparticles (spheres and rods) in solution, protection of DNA from enzymatic degradation, as well as two 3D tetrahedral DNA origamis. We present initial data showing that the diblock polypeptides promote the formation in the solution of desired organic/inorganic assemblies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)831-842
JournalACS Nano
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • diblock polypeptide
  • directed self-assembly
  • DNA nanotechnology
  • molecular assembly
  • protein engineering
  • protein polymer
  • solution compatibilization


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