Thermodynamic analysis of self-assembly in coiled-coil biomaterials

Betty P. Tsang, Heidi S. Bretscher, Bashkim Kokona, Robert S. Manning, Robert Fairman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Coiled-coil protein structural motifs have proven amenable to the design of structurally well-defined biomaterials. Mesoscale structural properties can be fairly well predicted based on rules governing the chemical interactions between the helices that define this structural motif. We explore the role of the hydrophobic core residues on the self-assembly of a coiled-coil polymer through a mutational analysis coupled with a salting-out procedure. Because the resultant polymers remain in solution, a thermodynamic approach is applied to characterize the polymer assembly using conventional equations from polymer theory to extract nucleation and elongation parameters. The stabilities and lengths of the polymers are measured using circular dichroism spectropolarimetry, sizing methods including dynamic light scattering and analytical ultracentrifugation, and atomic force microscopy to assess mesoscale morphology. Upon mutating isoleucines at two core positions to serines, we find that polymer stability is decreased while the degree of polymerization is about the same. Differences in results from circular dichroism and dynamic light scattering experiments suggest the presence of a stable intermediate state, and a scheme is proposed for how this intermediate might relate to the monomer and polymer states.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8548-8558
Number of pages11
Issue number40
StatePublished - Oct 11 2011


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