Self-assembled nanomaterials based on beta (beta(3)) tetrapeptides Academic Article uri icon


  • β(3)-amino acid based polypeptides offer a unique starting material for the design of self-assembled nanostructures such as fibres and hierarchical dendritic assemblies, due to their well-defined helical geometry in which the peptide side chains align at 120° due to the 3.0-3.1 residue pitch of the helix. In a previous work we have described the head-to-tail self-assembly of N-terminal acetylated β(3)-peptides into infinite helical nanorods that was achieved by designing a bioinspired supramolecular self-assembly motif. Here we describe the effect of consecutively more polar side chains on the self-assembly characteristics of β(3)-tetrapeptides Ac-β (3)Ala-β(3)Leu-β(3)Ile-β(3)Ala (Ac-β(3)[ALIA]), Ac-β(3)Ser-β(3)Leu-β(3)Ile-β(3)Ala (Ac-β(3)[SLIA]) and Ac-β (3)Lys-β (3)Leu-β(3)Ile-β (3)Glu (Ac-β(3)[KLIE]). β(3)-tetrapeptides complete 1 1/3 turns of the helix: thus in the oligomeric form the side chain positions shift 120° with each added monomer, forming a regular periodic pattern along the nanorod. Dynamic light scattering (DLS) measurements confirmed that these peptides self-assemble even in highly polar solvents such as water and DMSO, while diffusion-ordered NMR spectroscopy revealed the presence of a substantial monomeric population. Temperature dependence of the size distribution in DLS measurements suggests a dynamic equilibrium between monomers and oligomers. Solution casting produced distinct fibrillar deposits after evaporating the solvent. In the case of the apolar Ac-β(3)[ALIA] the longitudinal helix morphology gives rise to geometrically defined (∼70°) junctions between fibres, forming a mesh that opens up possibilities for applications e.g. in tissue scaffolding. The deposits of polar Ac-β(3)[SLIA] and Ac-β(3)[KLIE] exhibit fibres in regular parallel alignment over surface areas in the order of 10 μm.

publication date

  • 2016