The coating of regular-shaped, readily available nanorod biotemplates with inorganic compounds has attracted increasing interest during recent years. The goal is an effective, bioinspired fabrication of fiber-reinforced composites and robust, miniaturized technical devices. Major challenges in the synthesis of applicable mineralized nanorods lie in selectivity and adjustability of the inorganic material deposited on the biological, rod-shaped backbones, with respect to thickness and surface profile of the resulting coating, as well as the avoidance of aggregation into extended superstructures. Nanotubular tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) templates have proved particularly suitable towards this goal: Their multivalent protein coating can be modified by high-surface-density conjugation of peptides, inducing and governing silica deposition from precursor solutions in vitro. In this study, TMV has been equipped with mineralization-directing peptides designed to yield silica coatings in a reliable and predictable manner via precipitation from tetraethoxysilane (TEOS) precursors. Three peptide groups were compared regarding their influence on silica polymerization: (i) two peptide variants with alternating basic and acidic residues, i.e. lysine-aspartic acid (KD)<inf>x</inf> motifs expected to act as charge-relay systems promoting TEOS hydrolysis and silica polymerization; (ii) a tetrahistidine-exposing polypeptide (CA<inf>4</inf>H<inf>4</inf>) known to induce silicification due to the positive charge of its clustered imidazole side chains; and (iii) two peptides with high ZnO binding affinity. Differential effects on the mineralization of the TMV surface were demonstrated, where a (KD)<inf>x</inf> charge-relay peptide (designed in this study) led to the most reproducible and selective silica deposition. A homogenous coating of the biotemplate and tight control of shell thickness were achieved.
Altintoprak, K., Seidenstücker, A., Welle, A., Eiben, S., Atanasova, P., Stitz, N., … Wege, C. (2015). Peptide-equipped tobacco mosaic virus templates for selective and controllable biomineral deposition. Beilstein Journal of Nanotechnology, 6(1), 1399–1412. https://doi.org/10.3762/bjnano.6.145