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A Chemoselective biomolecular template for assembling diverse nanotubular structures

Michael Stowell*, a, b and Mukerrem Drewittb

aUniversity Colorado Boulder
bNeurobiology, MRC-LMB, Cambridge,
Cambridge, CB2 2QH UK

This is an abstract for a presentation given at the
Ninth Foresight Conference on Molecular Nanotechnology.
There will be a link from here to the full article when it is available on the web.


Nanomolecular patterning with definable size and organization is of integral importance in the drive for further miniaturization in materials science and electronics. Biomaterials and biopolymers are an important source of potential templates for production of such nanoscale structures. Template mineralization or photochemical polymerization on lipids1,2 and bacterial fibres3 have been reported, as well as methods for DNA driven nanocrystal organization4. However, supramolecular protein self assemblies such as virusus, actin filaments, and bacterial flagella have mostly been unexplored. Here, we describe design and production of a tobacco mosiac virus mutant that provides for specific and stoichiometric attachment of a wide variety of ligand-linker groups. As a result, specific ligands could be chemoselectively linked to the virion to produce highly diverse nanomolecular materials. These included semi-crystalline protein arrays, metallic 'nanopipes', multidimensional DNA 'wires', as well as nanomolecular 'light sticks'. The method described is facile and inexpensive with potential uses in such diverse areas as nanofabrication and biomolecular structure determination.


  1. Archibald, D.D. & Mann, S. (1993). Template mineralization of self-assembled anisotropic lipid microstructures. Nature 364: 430-433.
  2. Evans, E., Bowman, H., Leung, A., Needham, D. & Tirrell, D. (1996). Biomembrane Templates for Nanoscale Conduits and Networks. Science 273: 933-935.
  3. Davis, S.A., Burkett, S.L., Mendelson, N.H. & Mann, S. (1997). Bacterial templating of ordered macrostructures in silica and silica-surfactant mesophases. Nature 385: 420-423.
  4. Livisatos, A.P., Johnsson, K.P., Peng, X., Wilson, T., Loweth, C.J., Bruchez Jr., M.P. & Schultz, P.G. (1996). Organization of 'nanocrystal molecules' using DNA. Nature 382: 609-611.

*Corresponding Address:
Michael Stowell
Neurobiology, MRC-LMB Cambridge
Hills Road, Cambridge, CB2 2QH UK
Phone: 441223402209
Fax: 441223213556


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