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Keywords:

  • bacteriorhodopsin;
  • bionanotechnology;
  • retroengineering proteins;
  • QM-MM

Abstract

Proteins are naturally occurring nanosystems endowed with diverse properties and functions. Biotechnology affords means of modifying proteins to alter their properties and hence their function. Bionanotechnology is a rapidly emerging area of research with challenging opportunities and formidable challenges. Light-activated proteins, e.g., bacteriorhodopsin, manifest state changes when subjected to light, which can be exploited to store information in the range of terabytes. We describe the retroengineering of bacteriorhodopsin by rational site-specific mutagenesis to enhance its thermal and photochemical properties. Bacteriorhodopsin-based memory systems are amenable to writing and reading information at comparable speeds. With silicon-based technologies reaching their technological limits, protein-based memory systems are one viable alternate technology for the future. © 2003 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Int J Quantum Chem, 2003