Biomimetic engineering of conductive curli protein films

Noémie Manuelle Dorval Courchesne*, Elizabeth P. Debenedictis, Jason Tresback, Jessica J. Kim, Anna Duraj-Thatte, David Zanuy, Sinan Keten, Neel S. Joshi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Bioelectronic systems derived from peptides and proteins are of particular interest for fabricating novel flexible, biocompatible and bioactive devices. These synthetic or recombinant systems designed for mediating electron transport often mimic the proteinaceous appendages of naturally occurring electroactive bacteria. Drawing inspiration from such conductive proteins with a high content of aromatic residues, we have engineered a fibrous protein scaffold, curli fibers produced by Escherichia coli bacteria, to enable long-range electron transport. We report the genetic engineering and characterization of curli fibers containing aromatic residues of different nature, with defined spatial positioning, and with varying content on single self-assembling CsgA curli subunits. Our results demonstrate the impressive versatility of the CsgA protein for genetically engineering protein-based materials with new functions. Through a scalable purification process, we show that macroscopic gels and films can be produced, with engineered thin films exhibiting a greater conductivity compared with wild-type curli films. We anticipate that this engineered conductive scaffold, and our approach that combines computational modeling, protein engineering, and biosynthetic manufacture will contribute to the improvement of a range of useful bio-hybrid technologies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number454002
Issue number45
StatePublished - Sep 11 2018


  • amyloids
  • aromatic amino acids
  • bio-conductivity
  • protein materials

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering

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