Tailored Materials for Protein Encapsulation and Stabilisation

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Chemistry

Abstract

Proteins are complex 3D assemblies made up of long chains of amino acids. Depending on the sequence of these amino acids, the 3-dimensional structure of the protein and its corresponding function differs. Proteins are identified by their biological roles within the body, varying from enzymatic duties to structural responsibilities.

Although proteins are capable of executing intricate and complex tasks on incredibly short timescales, they are often subject to denaturation outside of biological settings. This makes it difficult to investigate proteins and almost impossible to take advantage of the unique abilities they encompass.

This PhD project attempts to solve this ongoing stability problem associated with proteins through encapsulation and stabilisation within supramolecular frameworks. Encapsulation is promoted through favourable host-guest interactions, allowing us to then potentially study the protein and possibly exploit its functions for practical applications.

The magnitude of proteins makes it difficult to design a supramolecular architecture big enough to encapsulate them. Because of this, complete understanding of preferential binding motifs between proteins and supermolecules is important. This can be somewhat investigated by encapsulating smaller amino acids and peptides.

It is also possible to design supramolecular cages based biological structures. This can be accomplished through metal-ion mediated self-assembly of amino acids or peptides. This could be a starting point for designing a large enough framework that will preferentially exist as a host-guest complex upon introduction of a protein.

As demonstrated in Nature Communications, it is also possible to encapsulate a protein by tethering it covalently to a ligand.1 Upon addition of a metal ion and additional ligand, a self-assembled framework forms around the tethered protein. Identifying favourable interactions within this system can offer a design motif for encapsulation without the need for covalent attachment of the protein.

Publications

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Taylor LLK (2019) Self-Assembly of Functional Discrete Three-Dimensional Architectures in Water. in Angewandte Chemie (International ed. in English)

Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/N509565/1 01/10/2016 30/09/2021
1936367 Studentship EP/N509565/1 04/09/2017 30/09/2021 Lauren Taylor
 
Description I design and synthesise novel supramolecular complexes. I synthesised a complex with a novel electronic configuration which could have applications in data storage, catalysis or molecular switches. Working further on this, I synthesised similar compounds which possess internal void space which could have applications in catalysis, drug delivery and stabilisation of reactive intermediates.
Exploitation Route Developing novel complexes and reaction mechanisms previously inaccessible.
Sectors Chemicals

 
Description Organised an event for International Women's Day 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact Planned, delivered and chaired a conference in the School of Chemistry for International Women's Day 2019. Invited inspirational chemistry graduates from the University of Manchester and academics from other institutions in the UK to talk about their experiences as a woman in the field.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Organised an event for International Women's Day 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact Organised the second event for IWD the year after.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/uom-chemistry-international-womens-day-celebration-2020-tickets-91619...
 
Description Wrote an article for Chemistry World 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Article written for Chemistry World which focussed on the issue of climate change.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.chemistryworld.com/opinion/4011202.article