Directed Assembly of Elastin-like Proteins into defined Supramolecular Structures and Cargo Encapsulation In Vitro

* These authors contributed equally
This article has been accepted and is currently in production

Abstract

Tailored proteinaceous building blocks are versatile candidates for the assembly of supramolecular structures such as minimal cells, drug delivery vehicles and enzyme scaffolds. Due to their biocompatibility and tunability on the genetic level, Elastin-like proteins (ELP) are ideal building blocks for biotechnological and biomedical applications. Nevertheless, the assembly of protein based supramolecular structures with distinct physiochemical properties and good encapsulation potential remains challenging.

Here we provide two efficient protocols for guided self-assembly of amphiphilic ELPs into supramolecular protein architectures such as spherical coacervates, fibers and stable vesicles. The presented assembly protocols generate Protein Membrane-Based Compartments (PMBCs) based on ELPs with adaptable physicochemical properties. PMBCs demonstrate phase separation behavior and reveal method dependent membrane fusion and are able to encapsulate chemically diverse fluorescent cargo molecules. The resulting PMBCs have a high application potential as a drug formulation and delivery platform, artificial cell, and compartmentalized reaction space.