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FEATURE ARTICLE

Proteomimicry

Engineering inspiration arises from the structures of proteins

Jerry H. Brown

Figure 1. Myosin structure motor demonstratedClick to Enlarge ImageThe concept of biomimicry—using living organisms as models for the built environment—has been with us for millennia, although the word wasn’t coined until the late 1960s. Proteomimicry employs modern imaging techniques to look deeper into the building blocks of life, using proteins as three-dimensional structural models for engineering stronger, more flexible systems. Useful analogs are already to be found in complex joints and multi-action levers. And with more than 53,000 structures now cataloged in the Protein Data Bank incorporating 1,100 unique folds, the breadth and variety of these models for things we design have barely begun to be tapped.


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