Synthetic biogenesis of bacterial amyloid nanomaterials with tunable inorganic-organic interfaces and electrical conductivity
Amyloids are highly ordered, hierarchal protein nanoassemblies. Functional amyloids in bacterial biofilms, such as Escherichia coli curli fibers, are formed by the polymerization of monomeric proteins secreted into the extracellular space. Curli is synthesized by living cells, is primarily composed of the major curlin subunit CsgA, and forms biological nanofibers with high aspect ratios. Here, we explore the application of curli fibers for nanotechnology by engineering curli to mediate tunable biological interfaces with inorganic materials and to controllably form gold nanoparticles and gold nanowires. Specifically, we used cell-synthesized curli fibers as templates for nucleating and growing gold nanoparticles and showed that nanoparticle size could be modulated as a function of curli fiber gold-binding affinity. Furthermore, we demonstrated that gold nanoparticles can be preseeded onto curli fibers and followed by gold enhancement to form nanowires. Using these two approaches, we created artificial cellular systems that integrate inorganic-organic materials to achieve tunable electrical conductivity. We envision that cell-synthesized amyloid nanofibers will be useful for interfacing abiotic and biotic systems to create living functional materials.