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Keywords:

  • protein-based materials;
  • molecular self-assembly;
  • single molecule force spectroscopy;
  • scanning probe microscopy;
  • polypeptides;
  • biomaterials
Thumbnail image of graphical abstract

A new strategy is reported for creating protein-based nanomaterials by genetically fusing large polypeptides to monomeric streptavidin and exploiting the propensity of streptavidin monomers(SM) to self-assemble into stable tetramers. We have characterized the mechanical properties of streptavidin-linked structures and measured, for the first time, the mechanical strength of streptavidin tetramers themselves. Using streptavidin tetramers as molecular hubs offers a unique opportunity to create a variety of well-defined, self-assembled protein-based (nano)materials with unusual mechanical properties.