Achieving biopolymer synergy in systems chemistry
Synthetic and materials chemistry initiatives have enabled the translation of the macromolecular functions of biology into synthetic frameworks. These explorations into alternative chemistries of life attempt to capture the versatile functionality and adaptability of biopolymers in new orthogonal scaffolds. Information storage and transfer, however, so beautifully represented in the central dogma of biology, require multiple components functioning synergistically. Over a single decade, the emerging field of systems chemistry has begun to catalyze the construction of mutualistic biopolymer networks, and this review begins with the foundational small-molecule-based dynamic chemical networks and peptide amyloid-based dynamic physical networks on which this effort builds. The approach both contextualizes the versatile approaches that have been developed to enrich chemical information in synthetic networks and highlights the properties of amyloids as potential alternative genetic elements. The successful integration of both chemical and physical networks through β-sheet assisted replication processes further informs the synergistic potential of these networks. Inspired by the cooperative synergies of nucleic acids and proteins in biology, synthetic nucleic-acid–peptide chimeras are now being explored to extend their informational content. With our growing range of synthetic capabilities, structural analyses, and simulation technologies, this foundation is radically extending the structural space that might cross the Darwinian threshold for the origins of life as well as creating an array of alternative systems capable of achieving the progressive growth of novel informational materials.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Peptide and protein nanotechnology