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Integrative structural biology of protein fibers: Spider silk and beta-lactoglobulin nanofibrils

Time: Mon 2023-12-11 13.00

Location: Kollegiesalen, Brinellvägen 8, Stockholm

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Language: English

Subject area: Biotechnology

Doctoral student: Danilo Hirabae De Oliveira , Proteinteknologi, Albanova VinnExcellence Center for Protein Technology, ProNova, My Hedhammar Lab & Christofer Lendel Lab

Opponent: Associate Professor Martin Humenik, University of Bayreuth

Supervisor: Professor My Hedhammar, Centrum för Bioprocessteknik, CBioPT, Proteinteknologi, Science for Life Laboratory, SciLifeLab, Albanova VinnExcellence Center for Protein Technology, ProNova; Universitetslektor Christofer Lendel, Tillämpad fysikalisk kemi

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QC 20231115


Proteins found in nature offer a vast range of exceptional materials, including high-performancebiopolymers such as spider silks and whey protein nanofibrils. Fibrous proteins possess immensepotential for developing novel materials suited for various applications, such as medicalbiomaterials or industrial products. This thesis uses an interdisciplinary approach based onexperimental and computational methods to present insights into the fundamental aspects ofprotein fibers, exploring details on the molecular level and their self-assembly.Spider silk threads exhibit strength, elasticity, and the ability to withstand high-energy loads.Additionally, silk is naturally degradable, and compatible with cell growth, and non-immunogenic.This thesis examines the molecular assembly of spider silk, particularly the secondary structurelevel, which contributes greatly to its properties. We unveil the structural details of therecombinant spidroins 4RepCT and the CT domain over hydrophobic/hydrophilic surfaces,describing their periodic oriented macrostructure and stability. Furthermore, it is reported that theCT domain form β-nanocrystalline components, revealing a specific segment (helix No4) that canself-assemble into nanofibrils in a pH-sensitive manner. In addition, we describe the method ofsortase-mediated transpeptidation reaction used to catalyze the covalent coupling of the spidroins4Rep and CT, resulting in partially isotopically labeled fibers suitable for solid-state NMRspectroscopy analyses.β-lactoglobulin is an emerging protein source used to create advanced biomaterials because of itshigh availability and ability to assemble to protein nanofibrils (PNFs). Recombinant and syntheticβ-lactoglobulin PNFs with isotopic labelling are generated and analyzed using solid-state NMRspectroscopy and atomic force microscopy. The fibrils of both species present congruenciesregarding morphology with unbranched conformation and a height of approximately 6 nm. At thesame time, their NMR spectra demonstrate accordance with their hydrophobic residues (i.e., Ala,Val, Ile, and Leu) as β-sheets. In addition, distinct inter-residue cross-peaks of Ser-Thr and LeuIle provide insights into the molecular structure of β-lactoglobulin PNF.This thesis presents new knowledge about the hierarchy of protein fibrils and the structure ofprotein-based materials at the molecular level. This knowledge can unlock the design anddevelopment of innovative protein-based materials for various applications.