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Dynamic Microfluidic Control of Supramolecular Peptide Self-Assembly

Z.A. Arnon; A. Vitalis; A. Levin; T.C.T. Michaels; A. Caflisch; T.P.J. Knowles; L. Adler-Abramovich; E. Gazit

Journal: Nat. Commun.
Year: 2016
Volume: 7
Pages: 13190
DOI: 10.1038/ncomms13190
Type of Publication: Journal Article

ABSINTH; aggregation; Computer Simulation; Diphenylalanine; Microfluidics; Nanotubes; Self-Assembly


The dynamic nature of supramolecular polymers has a key role in their organization. Yet, the manipulation of their dimensions and polarity remains a challenge. Here, the minimalistic diphenylalanine building block was applied to demonstrate control of nano-assemblies growth and shrinkage using microfluidics. To fine-tune differential local environments, peptide nanotubes were confined by micron-scale pillars and subjected to monomer flows of various saturation levels to control assembly and disassembly. The small-volume device allows the rapid adjustment of conditions within the system. A simplified kinetic model was applied to calculate parameters of the growth mechanism. Direct real-time microscopy analysis revealed that different peptide derivatives show unidirectional or bidirectional axial dimension variation. Atomistic simulations show that unidirectional growth is dictated by the differences in the axial ends, as observed in the crystalline order of symmetry. This work lays foundations for the rational control of nano-materials dimensions for applications in biomedicine and material science.