Creating Novel Bio-Adhesives using Genetically Programmed Protein Assembly

Dr. Ewan Main (primary)
School of Biological and Chemical Sciences
James Garnett (secondary)
Centre for Host Microbiome Interactions (CHMI), Faculty of Dentistry, Oral & Craniofacial Sciences


We will use genetically programmed protein ligation to assemble specific protein modules from molluscs/bacterial biofilms into novel adhesive fibres and gels. This will be achieved by combining our exclusive/innovative recombinant fusion protein system and our knowledge on bacterial biofilm/mollusc adhesion proteins. Utilising the recombinant fusion protein system, we will be able to self-assemble protein modules into the desired bio-adhesive. By combining fusions correctly, predictable arrays of adhesive fibres and gels will be formed with controllable properties/architectures. This technology offers a low-cost highly tuneable platform technology to produce novel adhesives.


1. Wright, J.N., Wong, W.L., Harvey, J.A., Garnett, J.A., Itzhaki, L.S. & Main, E.R.G. (2019) “Scalable geometrically designed protein cages assembled via genetically encoded split Inteins.” Structure 27, 776-84.

2. Harvey, J., Itzhaki, L.S. & Main E.R.G. (2018) “Programmed Protein Self-Assembly Driven by Genetically Encoded Intein-Mediated Native Chemical Ligation.” ACS Synth Biol. 7 (4), 1067-1074.

3. Phillips, J. J.; Millership, C.; Main, E. R. Angewandte Chemie 2012, 51, 13132

4. Garnett, J. A.; Martinez-Santos, V. I.; Saldana, Z.; Pape, T.; Hawthorne, W.; Chan, J.; Simpson, P. J.; Cota, E.; Puente, J. L.; Giron, J. A.; Matthews, S. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2012, 109, 3950.

5. Main, E. R.; Phillips, J. J.; Millership, C. Biochem Soc Trans 2013, 41, 1152.

Molecules, cells and industrial biotechnology
Area of Biology
BiotechnologyStructural Biology
Techniques & Approaches
BiochemistryBiophysicsMicroscopy / ElectrophysiologyMolecular Biology