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2021 - Design of biologically active binary protein 2D materials

icon vpp Vesicle Prep Pro publication in Nature (2021)

Ben-Sasson A.J., Watson J.L., Sheffler W., Camp Johnson M., Bittleston A., Somasundaram L., Decarreau J., Jiao F., Chen J., Mela I., Drabek A.A., Jarrett S.M., Blacklow S.C., Kaminski C.F., Hura G.L., De Yoreo J.J., Kollman J.M., Ruohola-Baker H., Derivery E., Baker D.


Nature (2021) doi: 10.1038/s41586-020-03120-8


Ordered two-dimensional arrays such as S-layers and designed analogues have intrigued bioengineers, but with the exception of a single lattice formed with flexible linkers, they are constituted from just one protein component. Materials composed of two components have considerable potential advantages for modulating assembly dynamics and incorporating more complex functionality. Here we describe a computational method to generate co-assembling binary layers by designing rigid interfaces between pairs of dihedral protein building blocks, and use it to design a p6m lattice. The designed array components are soluble at millimolar concentrations, but when combined at nanomolar concentrations, they rapidly assemble into nearly crystalline micrometre-scale arrays nearly identical to the computational design model in vitro and in cells without the need for a two-dimensional support. Because the material is designed from the ground up, the components can be readily functionalized and their symmetry reconfigured, enabling formation of ligand arrays with distinguishable surfaces, which we demonstrate can drive extensive receptor clustering, downstream protein recruitment and signalling. Using atomic force microscopy on supported bilayers and quantitative microscopy on living cells, we show that arrays assembled on membranes have component stoichiometry and structure similar to arrays formed in vitro, and that our material can therefore impose order onto fundamentally disordered substrates such as cell membranes. In contrast to previously characterized cell surface receptor binding assemblies such as antibodies and nanocages, which are rapidly endocytosed, we find that large arrays assembled at the cell surface suppress endocytosis in a tunable manner, with potential therapeutic relevance for extending receptor engagement and immune evasion. Our work provides a foundation for a synthetic cell biology in which multi-protein macroscale materials are designed to modulate cell responses and reshape synthetic and living systems.

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