Systems Chemistry and Nested Biomolecular Information

The Plant Microbiome as an External Organ

The rhizosphere is a complex system along a plant’s roots that is comprised of the bacteria, fungi, and their secondary metabolites that colonize this zone. It has been shown that there is a spatial and temporal relationship that exists within the chemical network of the rhizosphere, but how this spatiotemporal relationship is established and functions remains unclear. Currently, we are interested in understanding reaction-diffusion networks within the rhizosphere and their impact on climate change.

Amphiphiles and 2-step Nucleation of Biomaterials

Prion-like low complexity domains (PLCD) exist as head-to-tail linked amphiphiles, accessing liquid-liquid phase transitions enable spatiotemporal cellular organization critical in division, signaling, and transcriptional regulation.

Intrinsically disordered (IDP) biomolecular condensates are found in ribonucleoprotein bodies, the nucleolus, and as domain of ~40% of all eukaryotic proteins.

Peptide/Nucleic Acid Co-assemblies

Oligonucleotides can template assembly of positively charged peptides like Ac-KLVIIAG-NH2 and Ac-RLVIIAG-NH2 into well-ordered cross-β peptide leaflets that order into multi-lamellar nanotubes. While these short peptides can self-assemble into fibrillar structures on their own, the presence of polyanionic templates could provide a different pathway for assembly via charge passivation, which result in entirely different morphology (fibers vs. multilamellar nanotubes). Furthermore, the spatial arrangements of negative charges along the template could greatly affect template stability, dictating whether or not cooperative assembly could occur. These interactions can are also seen in proteins and DNA in vivo, and recapitulating such complex phenomena with such minimal model systems could further elucidate the mechanisms that control dynamic supramolecular assemblies seen in cells.

Sticker/Spacer Oligomers as Primitive Proteins Capable of Novel Functions