Homo- and heteropolymer self-assembly of recombinant trichocytic keratins

Rachael N. Parker, Kristina L. Roth, Christina Kim, Jennifer P. McCord, Mark E. Van Dyke, Tijana Z. Grove

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


In the past two decades, keratin biomaterials have shown impressive results as scaffolds for tissue engineering, wound healing, and nerve regeneration. In addition to its intrinsic biocompatibility, keratin interacts with specific cell receptors eliciting beneficial biochemical cues. However, during extraction from natural sources, such as hair and wool fibers, natural keratins are subject to extensive processing conditions that lead to formation of unwanted by-products. Additionally, natural keratins suffer from limited sequence tunability. Recombinant keratin proteins can overcome these drawbacks while maintaining the desired chemical and physical characteristics of natural keratins. Herein, we present the bacterial expression, purification, and solution characterization of human hair keratins K31 and K81. The obligate heterodimerization of the K31/K81 pair that results in formation of intermediate filaments is maintained in the recombinant proteins. Surprisingly, we have for the first time observed new zero- and one-dimensional nanostructures from homooligomerization of K81 and K31, respectively. Further analysis of the self-assembly mechanism highlights the importance of disulfide crosslinking in keratin self-assembly.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere23037
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • fibers
  • human hair keratin
  • intermediate filaments
  • recombinant protein
  • self-assembly

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomaterials
  • Organic Chemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Homo- and heteropolymer self-assembly of recombinant trichocytic keratins'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this