Transient fibril structures facilitating nonenzymatic self-replication

Boris Rubinov, Nathaniel Wagner, Maayan Matmor, Oren Regev, Nurit Ashkenasy, Gonen Ashkenasy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


An emerging new direction of research focuses on developing "self-synthesizing materials", those supramolecular structures that can promote their own formation by accelerating the synthesis of building blocks and/or an entire assembly. It was postulated recently that practical design of such systems can benefit from the ability to control the assembly of amphiphilic molecules into nanostructures. We describe here the self-assembly pathway of short amphiphilic peptides into various forms of soluble β-sheet structures-β-plates, fibrils, and hollow nanotubes-and their consequent activity as autocatalysts for the synthesis of monomeric peptides from simpler building blocks. A detailed kinetic analysis of both the self-assembly and self-replication processes allows us to suggest a full model and simulate the replication process, revealing that only specific structures, primarily fibrils that are stable within the solution for a time shorter than a few hours, can be active as catalysts. Interestingly, we have found that such a process also induces fibril reproduction, in a mechanism very similar to the propagation of prion proteins by transmission of misfolded states.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7893-7901
Number of pages9
JournalACS Nano
Issue number9
StatePublished - 25 Sep 2012


  • fibrils
  • prion proteins
  • self-replication
  • systems chemistry
  • β-sheet

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science (all)
  • Engineering (all)
  • Physics and Astronomy (all)


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