The de novo design of α-helical peptides for supramolecular self-assembly

Joe Beesley, Dek Woolfson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article (Academic Journal)peer-review

54 Citations (Scopus)
279 Downloads (Pure)


One approach to designing de novo proteinaceous assemblies and materials is to develop simple, standardised building blocks and then to combine these symmetrically to construct more-complex higher-order structures. This has been done extensively using β-structured peptides to produce peptide fibres and hydrogels. Here, we focus on building with de novo α-helical peptides. Because of their self-contained, well-defined structures and clear sequence-to-structure relationships, α helices are highly programmable making them robust building blocks for biomolecular construction. The progress made with this approach over the past two decades is astonishing and has led to a variety of de novo assemblies, including discrete nanoscale objects, and fibrous, nanotube, sheet and colloidal materials. This body of work provides an exceptionally strong foundation for advancing the field beyond in vitro design and into in vivo applications including what we call protein design in cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-182
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent Opinions in Biotechnology
Early online date28 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2019

Structured keywords

  • Bristol BioDesign Institute
  • BrisSynBio


  • synthetic biology


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