Recently, scientists have been interested in the ability of certain simple molecules to spontaneously form into nanostructures because of their potential applications in biotechnology and materials science. Certain biological self-assemblies including tobacco mosaic virus, capsid proteins, tubulin, and actin are able to form long filaments under 100nm in length, but their high fabrication costs eliminate their potential for use in practical applications. A simple alternative based off of using simpler molecules has arisen, though it requires a deeper understanding of the relationship between the molecular structure and the self-assembly process of the nanostructures. Additionally, before now, no simple synthetic molecule was able to self-assemble into nanotubes in the length range of 20-30nm.
Lanreotide, an octapeptide synthesized as a growth hormone inhibitor, is an excellent example of a molecule able to self-assemble into a well-defined nanostructure. By studying this self-assembly process, researchers were able to reach a better understanding of the systems involved in the formation process. It was determined that diameter of the nanotube could be changed by modifications to the molecular structure and that the process investigates the minimal interactions in order to form large self-assembling nanotubes (as observed with the biological self-assemblies mentioned above). Conclusively, the exemplary system of self-assembling lanreotide nanotubes in water can still be investigated for further applications.
Biomimetic Organization: Octapeptide self-assembly into nanotubes of viral capsid-like dimension