Millions of years of evolution optimized the amino acid sequences of the most remarkable structural proteins that are used by various organisms on Earth. Humans have exploited these natural proteins for millenia, e.g., to produce high quality textiles from silkworm cocoons or to heal wounds with spiderwebs. During the past few decades researches used these proteins to get inspirations for the design of biomimetic structural materials with predictable and tunable mechanical properties. However, attempts to fully replicate the natural fibers have been hindered by the lack of fundamental understanding of these materials' intricate hierarchical organization.
In this project we will use rational design, using both computational and bioengineering tools, to create bioinspired protein sequences based on the structural proteins of spiders, mussels, squids and bacteria. The goal is to understand the relationship between the primary, secondary and higher order structures, backbone dynamics and material property.
Structural proteins occurring in nature