Design and Discovery of Short Peptide Gelators and Emulsifiers

R.V. Ulijn
CUNY Advanced Science Research Center,
United States

Keywords: food materials, short peptide gelators


Short peptides hold promise as structural and functional components for applications in food, personal care and biomedical applications. Until now, discovery of new structured peptides has relied largely on chance discoveries or mimicry and simplification of known biological structures. This is because the potential sequence space is huge- with 20 amino acid building blocks there are 3.2 million pentapeptides of unique sequence that can be produced, meaning it is not possible to test them all. We have developed computational and experimental screening methods to allow for the unbiased searching of the peptide sequences space for form self-assembled structures. Or methods led to the discovery of a new family of simple peptides that are able to form hydrogels at neutral pH. These materials are much simpler compared to the gels of biological systems but they have some interesting properties that may be exploited. In addition, we have found peptides that can form emulsions with tunable properties. These emulsions and gels are biodegradable to amino acids, which are safe for use in food and drugs. Their sequence-dependent properties enable us to match the requirements of specific applications.