Albany 2019: 20th Conversation - Abstracts

category image Albany 2019
Conversation 20
June 11-15 2019
Adenine Press (2019)

The Critical Role of Intrinsic Disorder in Creating Bioactive Materials

The development of materials with diverse functional properties enables a broad range of applications. For materials composed of protein, well-established molecular biology techniques can theoretically be used to genetically fuse full-length functional proteins to the self-assembling protein, creating a single amino acid chain capable of both forming materials and enacting the function of interest. However, protein-based materials are typically assembled under denaturing conditions, precluding incorporation of proteins in an active state. Our lab discovered that the Drosophila melanogaster transcription factor Ultrabithorax (Ubx) self-assembles into nanoscale to macroscale materials. The disordered regions of Ubx resemble the amino acid sequence of elastin, and the mechanical properties of Ubx fibers resemble those of elastin. Because Ubx materials rapidly form in mild, aqueous buffers, a surprisingly wide variety of full-length monomeric and multimeric proteins can be incorporated into Ubx materials via gene fusion without harming materials assembly or impairing the function of the appended protein. Indeed, fusing Ubx is fused to angiogenic growth factors, creates fibers that control cell signaling and cell behavior in vitro, and can instigate and guide blood vessel formation in vivo. Finally, Ubx fibers retain the ability to bind specific DNA sequences, and Ubx monomers bound to DNA can still assemble into fibers. The intrinsically disordered regions of Ubx allows incorporation of molecules up to three times the size of this protein. One-pot production of functionalized Ubx materials provides a facile, scalable platform for customizing materials for a variety of applications.

Sarah E. Bondos

Department of Molecular and Cellular Medicine
440 Reynolds Medical Building
Texas A&M Health Science Center
College Station, TX 77843-1114

Email: SEBondos@medicine.tamhsc.edu