Molecular self-assembly is ubiquitous in nature and has recently emerged as a new approach in chemical synthesis, nanotechnology, polymer science, materials and engineering. Molecular self-assembly systems lie at the interface between molecular biology, chemistry, polymer science, materials science and engineering.
We will focus on conveying basic molecular structural principles of biological materials in a context useful to students from various disciplines (biomedical engineering, biology, biological engineering, biophysics, chemical engineering, materials science, and related fields). Various materials of biological origin, such as collagens, silks, wool, hair, bone, shells, protein adhesives, and fluorescent proteins are used to illustrate the key structural principles. Also, nucleic acid, saccharide, and lipid-based materials will be included. Importantly, the class will address molecular design of new biological materials by application of the molecular structural principles. For example, the design of self-assembling peptides will be described from the perspective of understanding the molecular structure and properties of amino acids.
Development of new materials and technologies often broadens the questions we can address therefore deepen our understanding of seemingly intractable phenomena. Molecular self-assembly systems will create a new class of materials at the molecular level. It is believed that application of these simple and versatile molecular self-assembly systems will provide us with new opportunities to study some complex and previously intractable biological phenomena. Molecular engineering through molecular design and self-assembly of biological building blocks is an enabling technology that will likely play an increasingly important role in the future technology and will change our lives in the coming decades.
Branden and Tooze. Introduction to Protein Structure. 2nd ed. Garland Press, 1999.
Additional References (not required)
Stryer, Lubert. Biochemistry. New York: W. H. Freeman & Co., 2002.
Zubay, Geoffrey. Biochemistry. Oxford, U.K.: W C. Brown Publishers, 1999.
Matthews, Christopher K. & K. E. Van Holde. Biochemistry. Menlo Park, CA: Benjamin Cummings Pub Co., 1995.
Creighton, Thomas. Proteins, Structures and Molecular Properties. New York: W. H. Freeman & Co., 1993.
Lectures are given twice a week in an informal class setting. Discussion is encouraged.
Additional original research papers are given to provide advanced understanding of various topics. Other texts are suggested as optional background reading.
One midterm: 30% of grade
Final project or review paper: 70% of grade