Artificial fibres from pseudoproteins
doi:10.1038/nindia.2016.157 Published online 28 November 2016
Researchers have made pseudoproteins that mimic the structures of natural proteins1, which can be used to make artificial fibres similar to natural silk.
Pseudoproteins are usually made using metal catalysts and solvents which is a complex and time-consuming processes.
Scientists from the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research in Thiruvananthapuram, synthesized crystals of a dipeptide attached with two reactive groups – azide and alkyne. When heated, the crystals were converted to pseudoproteins.
The crystals did not melt, even at very high temperature, suggesting that they formed polymers upon heating. The solubility of the heated crystals was very low in common solvents, indicating the formation of large polymers.
Unlike conventional methods, this process did not use any catalysts and solvents, making it simple and efficient for churning out pseudoproteins that are structurally similar to small functional proteins.
This is the first synthesis of a pseudoprotein in the solid state. “This proof-of-concept should generate interest in the synthesis of other pseudoproteins with potential for various applications,” says lead researcher Kana M. Sureshan from IISER, Thiruvananthapuram.
1. Krishnan, B. P. et al. Crystal-to-crystal synthesis of triazole-linked pseudo-proteins via topochemical azide−alkyne cycloaddition reaction. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 138, 14824-14827 (2016)