Molecular biomimetics: nanotechnology and bionanotechnology using genetically engineered peptides

Philos Trans A Math Phys Eng Sci. 2009 May 13;367(1894):1705-26. doi: 10.1098/rsta.2009.0018.


Nature provides inspiration for designing materials and systems that derive their functions from highly organized structures. Biological hard tissues are hybrid materials having inorganics within a complex organic matrix, the molecular scaffold controlling the inorganic structures. Biocomposites incorporate both biomacromolecules such as proteins, lipids and polysaccharides, and inorganic materials, such as hydroxyapatite, silica, magnetite and calcite. The ordered organization of hierarchical structures in organisms begins via the molecular recognition of inorganics by proteins that control interactions and is followed by the highly efficient self-assembly across scales. Following the molecular biological principle, proteins could also be used in controlling materials formation in practical engineering via self-assembled, hybrid, functional materials structures. In molecular biomimetics, material-specific peptides could be the key in the molecular engineering of biology-inspired materials. With the recent developments of nanoscale engineering in physical sciences and the advances in molecular biology, we now combine genetic tools with synthetic nanoscale constructs to create a novel methodology. We first genetically select and/or design peptides with specific binding to functional solids, tailor their binding and assembly characteristics, develop bifunctional peptide/protein genetic constructs with both material binding and biological activity, and use these as molecular synthesizers, erectors and assemblers. Here, we give an overview of solid-binding peptides as novel molecular agents coupling bio- and nanotechnology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adsorption
  • Biophysics / methods
  • Biotechnology / methods*
  • Biotechnology / trends
  • Calcium Carbonate / chemistry
  • Combinatorial Chemistry Techniques
  • Durapatite / chemistry
  • Ferrosoferric Oxide / chemistry
  • Genetic Techniques
  • Kinetics
  • Lipids / chemistry
  • Nanotechnology / methods*
  • Nanotechnology / trends
  • Peptides / chemistry
  • Silicon Dioxide / chemistry


  • Lipids
  • Peptides
  • Silicon Dioxide
  • Durapatite
  • Calcium Carbonate
  • Ferrosoferric Oxide