Recently, the paper "Nanoribbons self-assembled from short peptides demonstrate the formation of polar zippers between β-sheets" by researchers from School of Chemical Engineering was published onNature Communications(Nat. Commun. 2018, 9, 5118). The research has been an important advance on the study of short peptide self-assembly regulation mechanismby Prof. XU Hai’s group.
The researchers have designed a series of small molecule short peptides, and studied their self-assembly processes and the morphologies self-assembled nanostructures with atomic force microscopy (AFM), small angle neutron scattering (SANS), solid state nuclear magnetic resonance (ss NMR). They have found that polar amino acid zipper structures between β-sheets for the first time. It is a new type of super-secondary structure, comparing to non-polar leucine zippers in proteins.
As proposed by Max Perutz (Nobel Prize Laureate in chemistry, 1862) in the 1990s, the hydrogen bonding of polar amino acid side chains formed between polyglutamine strands could stabilize the protein structures and was named as “polar zipper”. In this study, the authors found that polar zipper also formed betweenβ-sheets. Such a result will help to understand the mechanism of the hierarchical self-assembly process of proteins and peptides, and also be meaningful in the design and development of peptide-based functional materials.
Under the support of the National Natural Science Foundation of China, Prof Hai Xu’s group has been devoted to the research of self-assembly and functionalization of short peptides in recent years. This year, they have constructed peptide nanotubes through rational molecular design, and achieved the regulation of the nanotube diameter. The related results have been published on the Small (Controlling the Diameters of Nanotubes Self-Assembled from Designed Peptide Bolaphiles, Small, 2018, 14, 1703216). In addition, the group also designed and developed a series of functional short peptides with high antibacterial, anti-tumor and rapid hemostasis functions, and was issued a series of patents in peptide-based materials.
Translator: Yao Lin