Coiled-coil proteins as nano-wire scaffolds for in vitro and in vivo synthetic biology applications

Lead Research Organisation: University of East Anglia
Department Name: Biological Sciences


One of the exciting areas of synthetic biology capitalises on our knowledge of natural biological material for engineering products with novel functions. In addition to fundamental research, the global synthetic biology market is expected to grow to $38.7 billion by 2020 and the UK Government has identified synthetic biology as one of the 'Eight Great Technologies' in which Britain can play a major role.

This work will focus on synthetic biology using coiled-coil oligopeptides in order to generate nanostructures that are used as scaffolds, for example, for tissue regeneration. The building blocks of such nano-structures are based on coiled-coil peptide motifs that exist as part of naturally existing coiled-coil proteins. Our study will investigate the assemblies that are derived from coiled-coil building blocks with unusual characteristics. We have recently shown that the tip organising centre for bacterial polar growth contains a multi-protein assembly of coiled-coil proteins with unusual characteristics. During the proposed project we will derive short coiled-coil oligopeptides based on sequence analysis of naturally occurring coiled-coil proteins. We will use biochemical and biophysical technologies to investigate and characterise the higher order assemblies generated by these oligopeptides. We will also test the effect of mutations on the filamentation or branching characteristics of the nano-filaments formed. These investigations will provide a platform for rational peptide-design for the construction of nano-structures that can act as scaffolds for biological and medical applications.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
BB/M011216/1 01/10/2015 30/09/2023
1771922 Studentship BB/M011216/1 01/10/2016 30/09/2020 Lucy Burrows
Description I have discovered how to produce a key protein of Streptomyces Coelicolor and viewed its shape using microscopy. I have also shown that several proteins of the bacterium perform multiple roles in the life cycle.
Exploitation Route The protein could be crystallised and structure solved.
Sectors Environment,Healthcare