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Open Access Nano Express

Aggregate structure of hydroxyproline-rich glycoprotein (HRGP) and HRGP assisted dispersion of carbon nanotubes

Ben Wegenhart, Li Tan, Michael Held, Marcia Kieliszewski and Liwei Chen*

Author Affiliations

Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Ohio University, Athens, Ohio, 45701, USA

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Nanoscale Research Letters 2006, 1:154-159  doi:10.1007/s11671-006-9006-8

Published: 1 August 2006


Hydroxyproline-rich glycoproteins (HRGP) comprise a super-family of extracellular structural glycoproteins whose precise roles in plant cell wall assembly and functioning remain to be elucidated. However, their extended structure and repetitive block co-polymer character of HRGPs may mediate their self-assembly as wall scaffolds by like-with-like alignment of their hydrophobic peptide and hydrophilic glycopeptide modules. Intermolecular crosslinking further stabilizes the scaffold. Thus the design of HRGP-based scaffolds may have practical applications in bionanotechnology and medicine. As a first step, we have used single-molecule or single-aggregate atomic force microscopy (AFM) to visualize the structure of YK20, an amphiphilic HRGP comprised entirely of 20 tandem repeats of: Ser-Hyp4-Ser-Hyp-Ser-Hyp4-Tyr-Tyr-Tyr-Lys. YK20 formed tightly aggregated coils at low ionic strength, but networks of entangled chains with a porosity of ~0.5–3 μm at higher ionic strength. As a second step we have begun to design HRGP-carbon nanotube composites. Single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) can be considered as seamless cylinders rolled up from graphene sheets. These unique all-carbon structures have extraordinary aromatic and hydrophobic properties and form aggregated bundles due to strong inter-tube van der Waals interactions. Sonicating aggregated SWNT bundles with aqueous YK20 solubilized them presumably by interaction with the repetitive, hydrophobic, Tyr-rich peptide modules of YK20 with retention of the extended polyproline-II character. This may allow YK20 to form extended structures that could potentially be used as scaffolds for site-directed assembly of nanomaterials.

Hydroxyproline-rich glycoprotein; Carbon nanotube; Nano assembly