Biologically Inspired Engineering of Self-assembling Underwater Adhesives with Synthetic Biology

C. Zhong, T. Gurry, A. Cheng, J. Downey, C.M. Stultz, T.K. Lu
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, US

Keywords: underwater adhesives, self-assembly, amyloid, biomaterials, bionanotechnology, synthetic biology


Several marine organisms achieve strong interfacial underwater adhesion in turbulent environments using hierarchically assembled amyloid nanostructures. Biomimetic adhesives that recapitulate the strong wet bonding strength, the robustness, and the structural and functional complexity of their natural counterparts would have broad applications in both medicine and biotechnology. Here, we demonstrate a modular genetic strategy for engineering underwater adhesives based on the fusion of mussel foot proteins (Mfps) from Mytilus galloprovincialis with CsgA, the major subunit of adhesive curli fibers from Escherichia coli. We expect that these self-assembling fibrous ultra-strong underwater adhesives will serve as advanced adhesive materials for medical and industrial applications in the future.