A minimal length rigid helical peptide motif allows rational design of modular surfactants

Sudipta Mondal, Maxim Varenik, Daniel Nir Bloch, Yoav Atsmon-Raz, Guy Jacoby, Lihi Adler-Abramovich, Linda J.W. Shimon, Roy Beck, Yifat Miller, Oren Regev, Ehud Gazit

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Extensive work has been invested in the design of bio-inspired peptide emulsifiers. Yet, none of the formulated surfactants were based on the utilization of the robust conformation and self-assembly tendencies presented by the hydrophobins, which exhibited highest surface activity among all known proteins. Here we show that a minimalist design scheme could be employed to fabricate rigid helical peptides to mimic the rigid conformation and the helical amphipathic organization. These designer building blocks, containing natural non-coded α-aminoisobutyric acid (Aib), form superhelical assemblies as confirmed by crystallography and microscopy. The peptide sequence is amenable to structural modularity and provides the highest stable emulsions reported so far for peptide and protein emulsifiers. Moreover, we establish the ability of short peptides to perform the dual functions of emulsifiers and thickeners, a feature that typically requires synergistic effects of surfactants and polysaccharides. This work provides a different paradigm for the molecular engineering of bioemulsifiers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number14018
JournalNature Communications
StatePublished - 13 Jan 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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