[Frontiers in Bioscience 18, 289-304, January 1, 2013]

Recombinant protein polymers in biomaterials

Wookhyun Kim1

1Department of Surgery, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, and the Wyss Institute of Biologically Inspired Engineering of Harvard University, Boston, MA, USA


1. Abstract
2. Introduction
3. Synthesis of repetitive genes
3.1. Concatermerization
3.2. Recursive directional ligation
3.3. Convergent assembly
4. Natural protein-based materials
4.1. Recombinant protein polymers from mammals
4.1.1. Collagen
4.1.2. Elastin
4.2. Recombinant protein polymers from insects or spiders
4.2.1. Silk
4.2.2. Resilin
4.3. Recombinant protein polymers from marine organisms
4.3.1. Mussel adhesive protein
4.3.2. Reflectin
5. Summary and perspective
6. Acknowledgements
7. References


Naturally occurring protein-based materials have been found that function as critical components in biomechanical response, fibers and adhesives. A relatively small but growing number of recombinant protein-based materials that mimic the desired features of their natural sources, such as collagens, elastins and silks, are considered as an alternative to conventional synthetic polymers. Advances in genetic engineering have facilitated the synthesis of repetitive protein polymers with precise control of molecular weights which are designed by using synthetic genes encoding tandem repeats of oligopeptide originating from a modular domain of natural proteins. Many repeat sequences as protein polymer building blocks adopt a well-defined secondary structure and undergo self-assembly to result in physically cross-linked networks or with chemical cross-linking so that further form three-dimensional architectures similar to natural counterparts. In this review, recombinant protein polymers currently developed will be presented that have emerged as promising class of next generation biomaterials.