Complex functional systems constituted by multifunctional molecular building blocks at the nanoscale allow to remodel living cells and materials at a fundamental level. In the context presented here, precisely defined and modified proteins are used as tectons (architectural building blocks at molecular dimensions) to design modular elements for the constitution of complex systems. The protein tectons are accessed and modified biosynthetically including the site-selective introduction of noncanonical amino acids to introduce artificial and xenobiotic functions. The environmental control of structure/conformation of the specific fold/sequence of the block-domain design with amphiphilic properties allows to „program“ responsive and adaptive molecular systems constituting defined compartmentalized vesicular reaction spaces in vitro and in vivo. The dynamic membrane character of these superstructures allows us to program the constitution of de novo organelles in vivo enabling the compartmentalization of reaction spaces for the functional expansion of cells & protocells allowing for the biofermentation of ultrapotent drugs/enzymes. Furthermore we demonstrate the ability of dynamically adaptive, protein-based organelles (PBOs) to constitute a first example for prebiotic protocells based on proteins only!
The molecular material systems we access implement 3D structuring at the nano- & micro scale via 3D printing or via a recent technique we termed „Autonomous Protein Material Machines“ (APMM) implementing new material developments for applications in medicine and technology. Bio-based 3D nano-mechano material architectures are envisioned as step towards soft-mechano-chemistry. They are designed as chemo-mechano-responsive systems which respond chemically and mechanically to various environmental stimuli relying on chemical and thermodynamic changes altering the mechano-structural features of protein-based molecular material assemblies enabling complex movements through a combination of 3D prototyping and molecular design.Material developments towards autonomous and non-linear responsive materials come into reach.