The division Biohybrid Systems engineers proteins, enzymes and peptides to develop biohybrid materials with tailor-made properties and functionalities. The key technology platform comprises a collection of >50 peptides which bind in water at ambient temperature on a variety of surfaces. We aim to understand on the molecular level the interactions between the peptide anchors and the surfaces used for immobilization. Highlights comprise simulation studies and directed evolution protocols, which enable to introduce in one round of directed evolution 2 to 3 amino acid substitutions in short anchor peptides of up to 30-100 amino acids.
Anchor peptides enable the attachment of functional building blocks, for example enzymes, microgels, particles to synthetic and natural polymers at ambient temperature in water. Wherein, protein engineering allows to tune interactions and to generate responsive hybrid materials based on functional building blocks. Current application areas of functional biohybrid materials comprise the functionalization of textiles including antimicrobial properties and dying, as well as the immobilization of microgels and antifungal proteins on plant leaves for efficient nutrient and pesticide supply.
The anchor peptide technology platform is used within the group to immobilize enzymes and to advance directed evolution methodologies, for example to secrete and immobilize protein variants in standard polystyrene 96-MTP plates to minimize background reactions from media compounds. The application areas of the anchor peptide platform are additionally pursued in joint research efforts with polymer chemists, plant biochemists and plant physiologists.
Additional research areas, which are evaluated to grow into core topics are: hyaluronic acid based biopolymer synthesis, polymer degradation, including PE, PP and PET, functionalization by sulfonation & oxidation, and conjugation by enzymatic peptide fusions.
In the division Biohybrid Systems a broad interdisciplinary team is assembled. Competences to efficiently communicate with the synthetic and engineering groups within the DWI comprise textile chemists, polymer chemists and chemical engineers. The division Biohybrid Systems is located in the DWI-Biotechnikum, which produces as core facility proteins for biohybrid materials in fermentations up to 100 L scale.