Self-Assembly of Fused Homo-Oligomers to Create Nanotubes

  • Idit Buch
  • Chung-Jung Tsai
  • Haim J. Wolfson
  • Ruth Nussinov
Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology™ book series (MIMB, volume 474)


The formation of a nanostructure by self-assembly of a peptide or protein building block depends on the ability of the building block to spontaneously assemble into an ordered structure. We first describe a protocol of fusing homo-oligomer proteins with a given three-dimensional (3D) structure to create new building blocks. According to this protocol, a single monomer A that self-assembles with identical copies to create an oligomer A 1 is covalently linked, through a short linker L, to another monomer B that self-assembles with identical copies to create the oligomer B j . The result is a fused monomer A - L - B, which has the ability to self-assemble into a nanostructure (A - L - B) k . We control the self-assembly process of A - L - B by mapping the fused building block onto a planar sheet and wrapping the sheet around a cylinder with the target's dimensions. Finally, we validate the created nanotubes by an optimization procedure. We provide examples of two nanotubes in atomistic model details. One of these has experimental data. In principal, such a protocol should enable the creation of a wide variety of potentially useful protein-based nanotubes with control over their physical and chemical properties.

Key Words

Building block (BB) homo-oligomers oligomerization domain nanotube self-assembly symmetry unit-cell 



We thank Nurit Haspel and Dan Fishelovitch for their help and support. The computation times were provided by the National Cancer Institutes Frederick Advanced Biomedical Supercomputing Center and by the high-performance computational capabilities of the Biowulf PC/Linux cluster at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Bethesda, Maryland ( This project has been funded in whole or in part with federal funds from the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, under contract number NO1-CO-12400. This research was supported in part by the Intramural Research Program of the NIH, National Cancer Institute, Center for Cancer Research. The content of this publication does not necessarily reflect the view or policies of the Department of Health and Human Services, and mention of trade names, commercial products, or organization does not imply endorsement by the U.S. government.


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Copyright information

© Humana Press, a part of Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Idit Buch
    • 1
  • Chung-Jung Tsai
    • 2
  • Haim J. Wolfson
    • 3
  • Ruth Nussinov
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Human Genetics, Sackler Institute of Molecular Medicine, Sackler Faculty of MedicineTel Aviv UniversityIsrael
  2. 2.SAIC-Frederick Inc., Center for Cancer Research Nanobiology ProgramNCI-FrederickFrederick
  3. 3.School of Computer ScienceTel Aviv UniversityIsrael
  4. 4.Center for Cancer Research Nanobiology Program SAIC-Frederick, National Cancer Institute. Department of Human GeneticsMedical School, Tel Aviv UniversityIsrael

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