Molecular self-assembly has been the hallmark of nanotechnology research, with applications in various engineering and biomedical processes. We have developed a new class of self-assembling biomolecules, called amino acid pairing (AAP) peptides. The designed amino acid pairs possess complementary interactions that achieve both steric and chemical stabilities, leading to minimum pairing free energy. The AAP peptides not only possess specific molecular biofunctions (e.g., recognition and membrane targeting) but also derive surfactant-like characteristics from their unique amino acid sequences for molecular self-assembly. These peptides and their assembled nanostructures are able to interact with other molecules, e.g., hydrophobic compounds or anticancer drugs, DNA and siRNA, and different surfaces, either hydrophobic or hydrophilic in nature. They have been found to be useful in many applications, including drug and gene delivery, chemical or biochemical sensing, biofuel cells, model study for protein conformational diseases.
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