Coiled-Coil Design: Updated and Upgraded

Dek Woolfson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter in a book

108 Citations (Scopus)


α-Helical coiled coils are ubiquitous protein-folding and protein-interaction domains in which two or more α-helical chains come together to form bundles. Through a combination of bioinformatics analysis of many thousands of natural coiled-coil sequences and structures, plus empirical protein engineering and design studies, there is now a deep understanding of the sequence-to-structure relationships for this class of protein architecture. This has led to considerable success in rational design and what might be termed in biro de novo design of simple coiled coils, which include homo- and hetero-meric parallel dimers, trimers and tetramers. In turn, these provide a toolkit for directing the assembly of both natural proteins and more-complex designs in protein engineering, materials science and synthetic biology. Moving on, the increased and improved use of computational design is allowing access to coiled-coil structures that are rare or even not observed in nature, for example α-helical barrels, which comprise five or more α-helices and have central channels into which different functions may be ported. This chapter reviews all of these advances, outlining improvements in our knowledge of the fundamentals of coiled-coil folding and assembly, and highlighting new coiled coil-based materials and applications that this new understanding is opening up. Despite considerable progress, however, challenges remain in coiled-coil design, and the next decade promises to be as productive and exciting as the last.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFibrous Proteins
Subtitle of host publicationStructures and Mechanisms
EditorsDavid A D Parry, John M Squire
PublisherSpringer International Publishing AG
Number of pages27
ISBN (Electronic)9783319496740
ISBN (Print)9783319496726
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jan 2017

Publication series

NameSubcellular Biochemistry
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
ISSN (Print)0306-0225

Structured keywords

  • Bristol BioDesign Institute
  • BrisSynBio


  • Coiled coil
  • Computational design
  • De novo design
  • Peptide assembly
  • Protein design
  • Protein engineering


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