Computational Design of Self-Assembling Protein Nanomaterials with Atomic Level Accuracy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


We describe a general computational method for designing proteins that self-assemble to a desired symmetric architecture. Protein building blocks are docked together symmetrically to identify complementary packing arrangements, and low-energy protein-protein interfaces are then designed between the building blocks in order to drive self-assembly. We used trimeric protein building blocks to design a 24-subunit, 13-nm diameter complex with octahedral symmetry and a 12-subunit, 11-nm diameter complex with tetrahedral symmetry. The designed proteins assembled to the desired oligomeric states in solution, and the crystal structures of the complexes revealed that the resulting materials closely match the design models. The method can be used to design a wide variety of self-assembling protein nanomaterials.


  • Neil P. King
  • William Sheffler
  • Michael R. Sawaya
  • Breanna S. Vollmar
  • John P. Sumida
  • Ingemar André
  • Tamir Gonen
  • Todd O. Yeates
  • David Baker
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Biological Sciences
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1171-1174
Issue number6085
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Publication categoryResearch