Self-assembly of recombinant amphiphilic oligopeptides into vesicles

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Biomacromolecules, Volume 8, Number 9, pp. 2753-2761 (2007)



DOI Name (links to online publication)



surfactant-like peptides; monodisperse hydrophobic blocks; beta-sheet tapes; nanofiber scaffold; diblock copolymers; form nanotubes; liposomes; proteins; water; size


The aim of the present study was to design amphiphilic oligopeptides that can self-assemble into vesicular structures. The ratio of hydrophilic to hydrophobic block length was varied, and peptides were designed to have a hydrophobic tail in which the bulkiness of the amino acid side groups increases toward the hydrophilic domain (Ac-AlaAla-Val-Val-Leu-Leu-Leu-Trp-Glu(2/7)-COOH). These peptides were recombinantly produced in bacteria as an alternative to solid-phase synthesis. We demonstrate with different complementary techniques (dynamic and static light scattering, tryptophan fluorescence anisotropy, and electron microscopy) that these amphiphilic peptides spontaneously form vesicles with a radius of approximately 60 nm and a low polydispersity when dispersed in aqueous solution at neutral pH. Morphology and size of the vesicles were relatively insensitive to the variations in hydrophilic block length. Exposure to acidic pH resulted in formation of visible aggregates, which could be full), reversed to vesicles upon pH neutralization. In addition, it was demonstrated that water-soluble molecules can be entrapped inside these peptide vesicles. Such peptide vesicles may find applications as biodegradable drug delivery systems with a pH-dependent release profile.