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ACS Cent Sci. 2016 Nov 23;2(11):812-819. Epub 2016 Oct 18.

Engineering the Dynamic Properties of Protein Networks through Sequence Variation.

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Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, California Institute of Technology , 1200 East California Boulevard, Pasadena, California 91125, United States.


The dynamic behavior of macromolecular networks dominates the mechanical properties of soft materials and influences biological processes at multiple length scales. In hydrogels prepared from self-assembling artificial proteins, stress relaxation and energy dissipation arise from the transient character of physical network junctions. Here we show that subtle changes in sequence can be used to program the relaxation behavior of end-linked networks of engineered coiled-coil proteins. Single-site substitutions in the coiled-coil domains caused shifts in relaxation time over 5 orders of magnitude as demonstrated by dynamic oscillatory shear rheometry and stress relaxation measurements. Networks with multiple relaxation time scales were also engineered. This work demonstrates how time-dependent mechanical responses of macromolecular materials can be encoded in genetic information.

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