Collaborative Research: Geometric Elucidation of Supramolecular Assembly and Allostery with Experimental Validation

Principal Investigator: Meera Sitharam

Sponsor: National Science Foundation

Start Date: September 1, 2016

End Date: August 31, 2020

Amount: $799,990


A wide variety of supramolecular structures in nature and engineering – from viruses to protein crystals to nanomaterials – assemble rapidly and spontaneously at room temperature with remarkable efficacy. Many assembly processes incorporate the phenomenon of allostery, where intermolecular interaction is controlled by binding events at a remote site of one of the interacting molecules. Despite increasingly sophisticated in vivo, in vitro and in silico experimental efforts, assembly processes are poorly understood. A more mathematically rigorous, and mechanistically intuitive theory is crucial not only to predict and engineer assembly and allostery but also to guide further time-consuming experimentation. Deeper understanding of assembly, allostery, and the role of the latter in the former will help control infectious diseases, assemble viral vectors for gene therapy, design drugs and engineer materials at the nanoscale.

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