Principles for designing ordered protein assemblies

Trends Cell Biol. 2012 Dec;22(12):653-61. doi: 10.1016/j.tcb.2012.08.004. Epub 2012 Sep 10.


In nature, many proteins have evolved to have self-complementary shapes. This drives them to assemble into supramolecular structures, sometimes of great complexity, and often carrying out sophisticated cellular functions. Designing novel proteins that can self-assemble into similarly complex structures is a longstanding goal in bioengineering. New ideas, combined with continually improving computer algorithms, are making it possible to advance on that goal, bringing wide-ranging applications in synthetic biology within reach. Prospective applications range from vaccine design to molecular delivery to bioactive materials. Recent strategies and examples of successfully designed protein cages, layers, and crystals are reviewed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Computational Biology / methods
  • Models, Molecular
  • Nanotechnology
  • Nanotubes, Peptide / chemistry
  • Protein Conformation*
  • Protein Engineering / methods*
  • Protein Folding
  • Protein Interaction Mapping
  • Protein Multimerization
  • Proteins / chemistry*
  • Synthetic Biology / methods


  • Nanotubes, Peptide
  • Proteins