Decorating the Outer Surface of Microbially Produced Protein Nanowires with Peptides

ACS Synth Biol. 2019 Aug 16;8(8):1809-1817. doi: 10.1021/acssynbio.9b00131. Epub 2019 Jul 25.


The potential applications of electrically conductive protein nanowires (e-PNs) harvested from Geobacter sulfurreducens might be greatly expanded if the outer surface of the wires could be modified to confer novel sensing capabilities or to enhance binding to other materials. We developed a simple strategy for functionalizing e-PNs with surface-exposed peptides. The G. sulfurreducens gene for the monomer that assembles into e-PNs was modified to add peptide tags at the carboxyl terminus of the monomer. Strains of G. sulfurreducens were constructed that fabricated synthetic e-PNs with a six-histidine "His-tag" or both the His-tag and a nine-peptide "HA-tag" exposed on the outer surface. Addition of the peptide tags did not diminish e-PN conductivity. The abundance of HA-tag in e-PNs was controlled by placing expression of the gene for the synthetic monomer with the HA-tag under transcriptional regulation. These studies suggest broad possibilities for tailoring e-PN properties for diverse applications.

Keywords: bioelectronic materials; e-biologics; pili; sustainable electronics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Carboxy-Lyases / metabolism
  • Ethylene Glycols / metabolism
  • Molecular Structure
  • Nanowires / chemistry*
  • Oxygenases / metabolism
  • Peptides / chemistry*
  • Phenylalanine Ammonia-Lyase / metabolism
  • Plasmids / genetics
  • Proteins / chemistry*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / enzymology
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / metabolism
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins / genetics
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins / metabolism
  • Styrenes / chemistry


  • Ethylene Glycols
  • Peptides
  • Proteins
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins
  • Styrenes
  • styrene glycol
  • Oxygenases
  • styrene monooxygenase
  • Carboxy-Lyases
  • phenylacrylic acid decarboxylase
  • Phenylalanine Ammonia-Lyase