Self-assembly is a ubiquitous process in biology where it plays numerous
important roles and underlies the formation of a wide variety of complex
biological structures. Over the past two decades, materials scientists have
aspired to exploit nature’s assembly principles to create artificial materials, with
hierarchical structures and tailored properties, for the fabrication of functional
devices. Toward this goal, both biological and synthetic building blocks have been
subject of extensive research in self-assembly. In fact, molecular self-assembly
is becoming increasingly important for the fabrication of biomaterials because it
offers a great platform for constructing materials with high level of precision and
complexity, integrating order and dynamics, to achieve functions such as stimuliresponsiveness,
adaptation, recognition, transport, and catalysis. The importance
of peptide self-assembling building blocks has been recognized in the last years,
as demonstrated by the literature available on the topic. The simple structure
of peptides, as well as their facile synthesis, makes peptides an excellent family
of structural units for the bottom-up fabrication of complex nanobiomaterials.
Additionally, peptides offer a great diversity of biochemical (specificity, intrinsic
bioactivity, biodegradability) and physical (small size, conformation) properties
to form self-assembled structures with different molecular configurations. The
motivation of this review is to provide an overview on the design principles for
peptide self-assembly and to illustrate how these principles have been applied to
manipulate their self-assembly across the scales. Applications of self-assembling
peptides as nanobiomaterials, including carriers for drug delivery, hydrogels for
cell culture and tissue repair are also described.
WIREs Nanomed Nanobiotechnol .