13 October 2020
Mimicking mineralization and adhesion dynamics in barnacle cement protein
Our new paper on barnacle cement protein, “Disorder–Order Interplay of a Barnacle Cement Protein Triggered by Interactions with Calcium and Carbonate Ions: A Molecular Dynamics Study”, is published in the ACS journal “Chemistry of Materials”. In this work, first author Akshita Kumar has conducted highly-detailed Molecular Dynamics (MD) simulations to unveil the molecular-level interactions between the barnacle cement protein MrCP20 and calcium carbonate, both in ionic form and on solid surfaces. MrCP20 is one of the key protein in the barnacle cement that secures firm attachment of the animal to solid immersed surfaces, including minerals such as calcite. It has also previously been suggested to be involved in the biomineralization (calcification) of the protective barnacle shells but molecular details were previously unknown. Exploiting the 3D structure of MrCP20 previously elucidated in our lab, Akshita was able to precisely identify how MrCP20 captures calcium and carbonate ions around its surface, which is the first critical step towards protein-regulated biomineralization. She also identified the intermolecular interactions allowing MrCP20 to strongly and irreversibly adhere to calcified surfaces as calcite or hydroxyapatite. MrCP20 turns out to be a multifunctional protein of the barnacle cement that regulates biomineralization and contributes to the strong water-resistant adhesion of barnacles.
6 October 2020
Next-gen biocide-free, fouling resistant coatings
A few years ago, in a paper published in, “Science”, we demonstrated that Slippery-Liquid Infused Surfaces (SLIPS) are remarkably efficient to prevent marine biofouling and unveiled the mechanisms by which marine mussels were deterred from attaching to such surfaces. Since then, we have established a collaboration with “Adaptive Surface Technology”, a spin-off company who has been developing SLIPS coatings for various applications, including to combat marine biofouling. In our new publication “Laboratory and Field Testing Assessment of Next Generation Biocide-Free, Fouling-Resistant Slippery Coatings”, published in the journal ACS Applied Polymer Materials , first-author Snehasish Basu from BBML has conducted a comprehensive study to assess the performance of AST coatings both in the lab and in the field. Using our in-house developed testing protocols, we have found that these coatings can perform at least as well as the lab-scale SLIPS versions. We also tested these coatings in the field in the highly aggressive fouling waters of Singapore. Fouling species, both soft biofilms as well as hard macrofoulers, could be easily detached from the surfaces, which has useful practical implications because it means much less labor-intensive procedures to clean up fouled surfaces. The work has also confirmed our previous fundamental findings established in lab-scale studies: the thickness of the lubricant overlayer is a critical design criterion that largely controls the fouling-release performance of SLIPPERY coatings.
15 July 2020
Barnacle cement protein induces corrosion
Fouling organisms not only stick to immersed structures but can also cause serious corrosion damage. Barnacles in particular are well-known to corrode marine-grade steels, but so far the corrosion mechanism has remained elusive. In a joint collaboration with the lab of Prof. Matteo Seita at MAE/NTU, we have demonstrated that one of the main cement protein in the cement complex of barnacles (MrCP20) is redox-active and can directly oxidize iron. In our paper “Accelerated corrosion of marine-grade steel by a redox-active, cysteine-rich barnacle cement protein”, published in "npj Materials Degradation", we have shown that di-sulfide bonds stabilizing MrCP20 are reduced upon adsorbing onto steel surfaces, thereby oxidizing metallic Fe into Fe ions. This mechanism, identified for the first time in a protein/metal interface, may have also be involved in protein-induced degradation of other metallic surfaces such as biomedical implants.
15 May 2020
Magnetically responsive peptide coacervates for intracellular drug release
Our publication “Magnetically responsive peptide coacervates for dual hyperthermia and chemotherapy treatments of liver cancer” has been published in “Acta Biomaterialia”. Peptide coacervates derived from squid beak proteins (previously discovered in our lab) hold great potential to efficiently package various therapeutics and release them “on-demand” using an external stimulus or an internally-encoded trigger. In this work, Zhi Wei from BBML, in collaboration with the research team of Prof. Raju Ramanujan at NTU/MSE, has managed to recruit both the anti-cancer drug doxorubicin (Dox) and iron oxide magnetic nanoparticles (MNPs) within the peptide coacervates. Using an external magnetic field, the MNPs induced localized heating within the droplets, in turn leading to their disassembly and to the release of the drugs. The concept was demonstrated in vitro on liver cancer cell lines: nearly 100% cell death could be induced by applying an external magnetic field. An exciting development was that the coacervates microdroplets could penetrate the cell membrane through an endocytosis-free pathway, opening the door to a wide range of intracellular drug release. Stay tuned for future developments in this direction!
24 February 2020
Suckerin adhesives and anti-fouling coatings
Two new publications from the BBML were recently published. The article “Supramolecular β-Sheet Suckerin–Based Underwater Adhesives” appeared in “Advanced Functional Materials" and is the result of a collaboration with the labs of Dr. Bruno Zappone (Italian National Research Center and the University of Calabria) and Prof. Dong-Soo Hwang (POSTECH, South Korea). In this work, Deepankumar Kanagavel from BBML has developed artificial protein adhesives from squid sucker teeth proteins (SRTs) exhibiting outstanding water-resistant adhesive properties, and demonstrated that strong adhesion was due to supramolecular cross β-sheet motifs. The other paper, "Green biolubricant infused slippery surfaces to combat marine biofouling", by Snehasish Basu is in the area of marine biofouling and was published in the “Journal of Colloids and Interface”. In this study, which is a follow-up study of our previous article that appeared in “Science” two years ago, we have modified anti-fouling slippery coatings by replacing the silicon lubricant phase with the eco-friendly biolubricants oleic acid and methyl oleate that are harmless for the marine environment. In the lab, we have obtained a fouling-resistance performance nearly as equivalent as silicon-oil infused SLIPS coatings.
23 January 2020
Phase Separation-Regulated Life, In and Outside of Cells
Assoc. Prof. Ali Miserez, together with SBS/NTU PIs Assoc. Prof Oliver Mueller-Cajar, Asst. Prof. Yansong Miao, Assoc. Prof. Konstantin Pervushin, and Prof Lars Nordenskiöld have been awarded a Ministry of Education Tier 3 grant worth S$ 8.5 Million! Ali Miserez is the lead PI of the project entitled “Phase Separation-Regulated Life, In and Outside of Cells”, which will tackle the exciting field of Liquid-Liquid Phase Separation (LLPS). LLPS is a well-known phenomenon in colloidal chemistry and soft matter physics (known as coacervation), which has been “rejuvenated” in recent years with the realization that LLPS is widespread in biology. First demonstrated to play a critical role during the processing of functional extra-cellular materials such as biological adhesives, LLPS has since been observed in a plethora of intra-cellular phenomena, forming in particular membraneless organelles. In this project, we will seek to gain a fundamental understanding of molecular phenomena governing LLPS in systems such as actin self-assembly, in the carbon capture enzyme Rubisco, or in extra-cellular biological materials. We will heavily rely on quantitative biophysical characterization including solution and solid-state NMR or liquid-state TEM to understand the dynamics of droplets formation during LLPS. One thrust of the program will also seek to exploit LLPS for translation applications, notably in the area of smart delivery of therapeutics. Indeed, coacervate micro-droplets formed during LLPS exhibit the remarkable ability to recruit a wide range of both low and high molecular weight compounds, which can be released through external stimuli. We are extremely excited to work with this dynamic group of PIs. Post-doc and PhD opportunities will be available to work on this program and inquiries can addressed to Prof. Ali Miserez (email@example.com).
29 November 2019
LLPS of Squid Beak Peptides
A new paper by BBML, in collaboration with the lab of Prof. Konstantin Pervushin at SBS/NTU, just appeared in “Nature Communications”. In the article “Hydrogen bond guidance and aromatic stacking drive liquid-liquid phase separation of intrinsically disordered histidine-rich peptides” first author Bartosz Gabryelczyk (now back at Aalto University in Finland) has revealed the key molecular mechanisms driving the Liquid-Liquid Phase Separation (LLPS) of a family of Histidine-rich and Tyrosine-rich peptides from squid beak proteins. Using in particular mutagenesis and protein NMR, we have identified tandem repeats governing LLPS in this family of intrinsically-disordered peptides, and demonstrated that hydrogen bonding between Histidine and Tyrosine side-chains plays a critical role in the cascade leading to LLPS. In addition to fundamental understanding of molecular interactions driving LLPS, the work provides guidelines to rationally design pH-responsive microdroplets for smart drug delivery applications.
28 October 2019
3D structure of barnacle cement protein using solution NMR
Our article “Three-dimensional structure of Megabalanus rosa Cement Protein 20 revealed by multi-dimensional NMR and molecular dynamics simulations” is published in a theme issue of the Philosophical Transactions B entitled: “Transdisciplinary approaches to the study of adhesion and adhesives in biological systems”. In this study, first author Harini Mohanram unveiled the 3D structure of the cement protein from the M. rosa barnacle CP20 using solution NMR. Barnacles secrete a strong wet-resistant adhesive and CP20 is a major component of this proteinaceous-cement. The work is significant because it has largely been assumed that such functional adhesive proteins are fully disordered, an assumption challenged by the structural determination of CP20. Indeed, this is the first report describing the tertiary structure of an extracellular biological adhesive protein at the molecular level.
10 September 2019
Suckerin Peptide Hydrogel Induced by 310-Helices to β-Sheet Transition in Water
Our paper “A Short Peptide Hydrogel with High Stiffness Induced by 310-Helices to β-Sheet Transition in Water” is published in “Advanced Science”, with Shui Hui Hiew and Harini Mohanram as main contributors from BBML. Other collaborators include Profs. Konstantin Pervushin and Yugang Mu from SBS and Prof. Raffaele Mezzenga from ETH Zürich. In this study, we have discovered that a short, 8 amino-acid long peptide abundantly present in sucker ring teeth proteins can form stiff hydrogels by simple gelation in water without using any chemical modification or organic solvent. Using solution and solid-state NMR, we have shown that the peptide initially forms unusual right-handed 310 helices (which have never been reported before for a short peptide). Gelation occurs by a 310 helices to β-sheet conformation transition. The biocompatibility, low immunogenicity as well as ease of gelation in water makes this peptide hydrogel a promising candidate for various biomedical applications.
11 August 2019
Featured in "Our Tiny Superheroes" on CNA
Research from our lab is featured in the documentary “Our Tiny Superheroes” on Channel News Asia. The documentary highlights research from 7 Scientists in Singapore that uses tiny creatures to solve important mankind’s problems. Check our the full-length documentary here!
15 April 2019
Time-Resolved Observations of LLPS at the Nanoscale Using in Situ Liquid TEM
Our paper on the use of liquid-cell Transmission Electron Microscopy (liquid TEM) to study liquid-liquid phase separation (LLPS) is published in the “Journal of the American Chemical Society” (JACS). In this study entitled “Time-Resolved Observations of Liquid−Liquid Phase Separation at the Nanoscale Using in Situ Liquid Transmission Electron Microscopy”, Dr. Hortense Le Ferrand in close collaboration with our collaborator Prof. Martial Duchamp has used liquid cell TEM to observe for the first time nucleation events of protein-based LLPS at the nanoscale with millisecond time resolution. The work opens a wide range of opportunities in the rapidly growing area of LLPS, including membraneless organelles or pathological diseases triggered by LLPS.
11 April 2019
Mineralization Process of the Tough Mantis Shrimp Dactyl Club
A new paper by BBML is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the United States of America (PNAS). In this paper entitled “A diecast mineralization process forms the tough mantis shrimp dactyl club”, first author Dr. Shahrouz Amini (currently at the Max-Planck Institute for Colloids and Interfaces in Potsdam, Germany) and colleagues have unveiled the growth of the entire ultra-tough dactyl club of the mantis shrimp, a model system which we have been investigating since 2010. The study exploits the fact that mantis shrimps, as crustaceans, regularly molt their entire exoskeletons (including the dactyl club), providing a unique opportunity to monitor the growth of entire complex hard tissues. Thus, by maintaining live specimens in our aquaria mantis shrimps represent an ideal model organism to study biomineralization. In the study, we also identified the main protein regulating apatite formation in the dactyl club by assembling a transcriptome of the dactyl club tissue and probing it with proteomic data of the macromolecular template that controls the club biomineralization. Congrats to Shahrouz and all other BBML members for this excellent achievement!
18 February 2019
Prof. Raffaele Mezzenga from ETH Zürich
We are excited to host Prof. Raffaele Mezzenga from ETH Zürich at BBML. Prof. Mezzenga is a leading authority in soft matter physics, self-assembled supramolecular materials, and functional amyloids and is being appointed as Visiting Professor at MSE/NTU to strengthen our on-going collaborations.
12 February 2019
Double-Layer Mechanochromic Hydrogel with Multidirectional Force Sensing and Encryption Capability
A new paper by BBML, “A Double-Layer Mechanochromic Hydrogel with Multidirectional Force Sensing and Encryption Capability” is published in Advanced Functional Materials. The work by Dr. Qingi Zhu was in close collaboration with Profs. Prof. Niels Holten-Andersen and Krystyn Van Vliet from the Department of Materials Science at MIT. Qingdi developed robust double-layer hydrogels that display remarkable mechanochromic ability over a wide range of strain up to 300% deformation. The hydrogel is based on a double-layer concept, with each layer containing luminescent species (lanthanide ions and carbon dots) exhibiting overlapped absorption spectra but distinct emission spectra. The work also demonstrates proof-of-concept applications of the hydrogel as pressure and contact force sensors as well as its potential to be used for encryption devices
07 January 2019
Dr. Hortense Le Ferrand new Assistant Professorship position in MAE
Congratulations to Dr. Hortense Le Ferrand, a post-doc in the lab, who is starting a new Assistant Professorship position in the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE) at NTU. Hortense came to BBML on a prestigious Swiss National Science Foundation post-doctoral fellowship. We are looking forward to collaborating with her in the future.
26 October 2018
Biomechanical design of the saddle-shaped spring of the stomatopod dactyl club
Our paper on the biomechanical design of the saddle-shaped spring of the stomatopod dactyl club just got published in iScience from Cell Press and gathered multiple media coverage. In this work, first author Maryam Tadayon from our lab has demonstrated how the saddle of the mantis shrimp dactyl club can store a high density of elastic energy in order to power the ultra-fast strike of the dactyl club. The saddle is a bi-layer structure, with one layer ceramic-based to store a high density of elastic energy and the other layer containing a higher content of biopolymers to prevent brittle fracture of the saddle. The paper was featured, among others, in Wired Magazine, iflscience; and Chemistry World. Check out also the didactic video on the iScience youtube channel.
03 August 2018
Bioactive Stem Cells Secretome-Enriched Hydrogels for Chronic Wound Healing
We have been awarded a new Academic Research Fund (AcRF) Tier 2 grant from the Ministry of Education (MOE) for our proposal entitled “Bioactive Stem Cells Secretome-Enriched Hydrogels for Chronic Wound Healing”. Assoc. Prof. Ali Miserez is the main PI of the grant and Co-PIs are Asst. Prof. Dalton Tay from MSE and Assoc. Prof. Andrew Tan from SBS. In this project, we will be exploiting suckerin proteins (discovered in BBML) to produce bioactive hydrogels for chronic wound healing applications, such as diabetic-based wounds.
31 July 2018
Best Final Year Project (FYP)
Congratulations to Kenrick Koh who was awarded the Best Final Year Project (FYP) from MSE for his project on a new type of suckerin-based hydrogels that gel at room temperature. Following this excellent achievement, Kenrick is joining the lab as a PhD student supported by an Interdisciplinary Graduate Scholarship (IGS) in the field of skin research. Together with Prof. Dalton Tay (MSE) and Prof. Andrew Tan (SBS), Kenrick will be developing protein-based hydrogels for the treatment of chronic would healing. Congrats and welcome as a PhD student!
15 July 2018
New Members Assoc. Prof. Tian Liu, Ms. Merve Izmir and Mr. Yue Sun
We are welcoming new members in the lab. Assoc. Prof. Tian Liu from Dalian Institute of Technology, will be spending one year as a Visiting Scholar supported by the China Research Council. Dr. Liu is an expert on the biochemistry and structure of insect cuticle proteins and will be working on liquid-liquid phase separation of these proteins in the lab. Ms. Merve Izmir from the Middle East Technical University in Turkey has obtained a SINGA scholarship to pursue her PhD in the lab. And Mr. Yue Sun who graduated for his BSc and MSc from the Beijing University of Chemical Technology is also joining the lab on a joint PhD program with Linköping University in Sweden. Welcome to all these new members!
15 July 2018
Suckerin protein NMR and Squid Beak Protein Coacervates
Two publications from BBML were recently published. In their paper Supramolecular propensity of suckerin proteins is driven by β-sheets and aromatic interactions published in “Biomaterials Science”, Dr. Akshita Kumar and Dr. Harini Mohanram have precisely demonstrated using protein NMR which domains of suckerin proteins (previously discovered and sequenced in our lab) adopt anti-parallel beta-sheets. They have also shown that suckerins are further stabilized by pi-pi stacking of aromatic residues, providing design guidelines to artificially produce suckerin-like proteins exhibiting similar mechanical properties. And in his paper Glucose-Responsive Peptide Coacervates with High Encapsulation Efficiency for Controlled Release of Insulin published in “Bioconjugate Chemistry”, Zhi Wei Lim has exploited modular peptides from squid beak proteins (previously discovered and sequenced in our lab) to produce coacervate micro-droplets that can encapsulate both insulin and glucose oxidase with extreme high efficiency, with a very simple coacervation process. The micro-droplets are pH sensitive: upon exposure to glucose, glucose oxidase transforms glucose into gluconic acid, thereby locally decreasing pH and triggering the disassembly of micro-droplets and the release of insulin. Therefore, the micro-droplets mimic this glucose responsiveness function of pancreatic β-cell by releasing insulin according to glucose levels. Congrats all for these great publications.
20 June 2018
Farewell to Dr. Qingdi Zhu
We are giving our farewell to Dr. Qingdi Zhu, who worked for the past 3 years on a SMART-supported project, developing a new type of stimuli-responsive and mechano-chromic hydrogel. Qingdi is taking up a new career challenge, working for a Venture Capitalist firm back in China. Good luck on the new adventures!
26 February 2018
White Light-Emitting Multistimuli-Responsive Hydrogels
Our paper “White Light-Emitting Multistimuli-Responsive Hydrogels with Lanthanides and Carbon Dots” in collaboration with the labs of Prof. Niels Holten-Andersen and Prof. Krstyn Van Vliet from the Department of Materials Science at MIT is published in "ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces". In this work, supported by a seed grant from the BioSym program of the Singapore-MIT Research Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART), first author Dr. Qingdi Zhu from BBML developed a new type of luminescent hydrogel with white-light emission and responsiveness against multiple stimuli, allowing to sense temperature, pH, organic solvents, or metal ions with one single material and under hydrated conditions. Congrats to Qingdi for this excellent achievement.
15 January 2018
Congratulations to Cai Hao who successful PhD defence
Congratulations to Cai Hao who successfully defended his PhD entitled: “Biomimetic Studies Dosidicus gigas Histidine-Rich Beak Proteins”. Cai is the 10th student to graduate from BBML. Following his PhD, he will be joining the University of Toronto as a post-doctoral research to work on intrinsically-disordered proteins. Congrats again and all the best!
08 January 2018
New members Dr. Snehasish Basu and Ms. Sun Young Hur
We are welcoming two new members in the lab. Dr. Snehasish Basu, previously at Penn State University, is joining the lab as a senior Research Fellow to work on biofouling and anti-fouling coating. And Ms. Sun Young Hur is joining from Seoul National University (SNU) as a PhD student on a joint PhD program with Sorbonne University/Campus Pierre et Marie Curie (UPMC).
18 August 2017
Preventing Mussel Adhesion using Lubricant-Infused Materials
Our paper "Preventing Mussel Adhesion using Lubricant-Infused Materials" is published in "Science". The work was a close collaboration with the lab of Joanna Aizenberg from the Wyss Institute for Biologically-Inspired Engeering at Harvard University and demonstrates that lubricant-infused materials developed by the Aizenberg’s lab are extremely efficient both at deterring mussel adhesion and at minimising the adhesion strength of mussel threads. Authors from BBML were Shahrouz Amini, Luigi Petrone (both co-first authors) Clarinda Sutanto, and Ali Miserez (co-corresponding author).
19 June 2017
New member Dr. Hortense LeFerrand
Welcome to Dr. Hortense LeFerrand who is joining the lab with a prestigious post-doctoral fellowship from the Swiss National Science Foundation. Hortense obtained her PhD from ETH Zürich in Switzerland, under the guidance of our collaborator Prof. André Studart. During her PhD, she used magnetism to drive the assembly of bio-inspired multifunctional composites.
07 June 2017
Next generation of marine anti-fouling coatings in tropical environments
The BBML has secured a grant from the “Marine Science Research and Development Program (MSRDP)” from NRF to work on the next generation of marine anti-fouling coatings in tropical environments. The Co-PI on this grant will be Assoc. Prof. Scott Rice from the Singapore Center for Environment Life Sciences and Engineering (SCELSE)
18 May 2017
New Member Piet Swinkels
We are welcoming Piet Swinkels, a master student from Wageningen University in the Netherlands, who will be doing a 6-months internship in the lab.
31 March 2017
Farewell to Shahrouz
We are giving our farewell to Shahrouz, who is joining the Max-Planck Institute for Colloids and Interfaces, Department of Biomaterials in Potsdam, under the guidance of our collaborator, Prof. Peter Fratzl. Congratulations on a very successful tenure at BBML and all the best on new adventures!
22 February 2017
Molecular Mechanisms of Barnacle Adhesion: A Combined Structural Biology and Computational Study
BBML has been awarded a grant from the US Office of Naval Research – Global (ONR-G) for a project on the structure of barnacle adhesive entitled: "Molecular Mechanisms of Barnacle Adhesion: A Combined Structural Biology and Computational Study”. The PI for this project is Assoc. Prof. Ali Miserez and Co-PIs are Assoc. Prof. Konstantin Pervushin from the School of Biological Sciences and Dr. Chandra Verma from the Bioinformatics Institute at A*Star
Another busy 2 months of theses defenses, with four new students successfully defending their PhD and Master theses in the lab in the span of a few weeks:
- On January 20th, 2017, Fu Jing passed her PhD oral exam for her thesis entitled: “Biomimetic Engineering of Materials Based on Hagfish Slime Thread Proteins”
- On February 20th, Akshita Kumar passed her PhD oral exam for the project: "Biophysical Characterization of Squid’s Sucker Ring Teeth Proteins”
- On February 24th, Shu Hui Hiew also successfully defended her PhD thesis: “Modular Peptide Binding Interactions of SRT Proteins"
- And in February, Jun Jie Loke obtained his master for his thesis entitled: "Characterisation of a Bundling Protein involved in the Self-Assembly of Bioelastomeric Snail Egg Cases”
Congratulations all for the achievement!
11 October 2016
Achievement in Research Excellence – Best Researcher from the Singapore Maritime Institute (SMI)
The lead investigator of BBML, Assoc. Prof. Ali Miserez, has awarded the "Achievement in Research Excellence – Best Researcher” from the Singapore Maritime Institute (SMI) (More information). Prof. Miserez and the BBML team were rewarded for our research on biofouling and adhesive proteins from fouling organisms, and for the development of novel methodologies for the testing of anti-fouling coatings. The selection was based on all research projects currently funded by SMI.
07 October 2016
New member Carolin Heller
Welcome to Carolin Heller, an exchange student from Technical University Dresden, Germany, who will be conducting her 6-months master thesis in the lab.
New member Isaiah Chua
We are welcoming Isaiah Chua as a fresh graduate student in the lab. Isaiah has been awarded the "Nanyang President's Graduate Scholarship (NPGS)” to pursue his PhD at BBML, where he will be investigating nano-scale contact deformation mechanisms of impact resistant bio-tools such as the mantis shrimp dactyl club. Welcome and good luck!
31 July 2016
Farewell Dr. Maryam Tadayon and Dr. Dawei Ding
Two recent graduates from BBML, Dr. Maryam Tadayon and Dr. Dawei Ding, are leaving the lab to take up post-doctoral positions elsewhere. Maryam is moving to the Max-Planck Institute for Colloids and Interfaces, Department of Biomaterials (Director, Prof. Peter Fratzl) in Potsdam, Germany, where she will be working in the group of Dr. Yael Politi. Dawei is joining the group of Prof. Patrick Doyle at the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART). All the best and good luck in their future endeavours!
30 July 2016
MSE Doctorate Research Excellence Award
Congratulations to Dr. Shahrouz Amini, a fresh graduate from BBML, who has been awarded the “MSE Doctorate Research Excellence award”, which recognises outstanding PhD research conducted at MSE/NTU. Shahrouz’s PhD research pertained to in-depth characterization and multi-scale structure/property relationships of the dactyl club from mantis shrimps. During his research, Shahrouz unveiled many structural features of the mantis shrimps dactyl clubs at multiple length scales and discovered the key micro-mechanical phenomena endowing the clubs with such unprecedented damage tolerance. During his PhD Shahrouz published 14 papers, 4 of which as a first author in "Nature Materials", "Nature Communications”, “ACS Nano”, and “Acta Biomateriala”.
26 January to 03 February 2016
An exciting –and intense– 2 weeks in the lab with 4 students successfully passing their PhD oral exams:
- 26th January: Dawei Ding defended his PhD thesis “Preparation and Characterization of Biomimetic Materials Inspired by Jumbo Squid Sucker Ring Teeth”
- 27th January: Shahrouz Amini defended his PhD thesis “Toughening, micromechanics, and multi-scale structural analyses of high-performance biotools”.
- Later that day, Lihong Zhong defended her thesis “Synthesis and Characterization of Biomimetic Adhesive Inspired by Sandcastle Worm Glue”
- 3rd February: Maryam Tadayon defended her PhD thesis “Spring-Like Biomineralized Hard Structures: Lessons from Stomatopods”.
08 January 2016
New members Dario Heymann and Zhiwei Lim
We are welcoming two new graduate students in the lab:
- Dario Heymann is joining us from the University of Potsdam in Germany where he earned a Master in Biochemistry and Molecular Sciences. Dario previously conducted his master thesis at the Experimental Therapeutics Center in A*Star and also spent a few semesters as an exchange student at Tsinghua University in Beijing.
- Zhiwei Lim is also joining the group as a PhD student. Zhiwei graduated with his BSc from the School of Biological Sciences at NTU and for the past few years he worked at the "Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB)" in A*Star in the group of our collaborator, Dr. Byrappa Venkatesh.
09 December 2015
Best Poster in 7th International Peptide Symposium 2015
Congratulations to Shu Hui Hiew, who has won the best poster award at the "7th International Peptide Symposium 2015" for her poster entitled “A Comprehensive Bottom-Up Approach Towards Biomimicry: Modular Peptide Interactions of Squid Sucker Ring Teeth with Silk-Like Sequence.”
09 November 2015
The Mantis Shrimp Saddle: A Biological Spring Combining Stiffness and Flexibility
Our paper "The Mantis Shrimp Saddle: A Biological Spring Combining Stiffness and Flexibility" is on the front cover of “Advanced Functional Materials”. Congratulations to Maryam Tadayon, first author of the paper and Shahrouz Amini, co-author on this work.
28 October 2015
Mussel adhesion is dictated by time-regulated secretion and molecular conformation of mussel adhesive proteins
Our paper entitled “Mussel adhesion is dictated by time-regulated secretion and molecular conformation of mussel adhesive proteins” appeared today in “Nature Communications”. In this work, we have shown that adhesive proteins secreted by the green mussel to stick to solid substrates is precisely orchestrated, with the the protein Pvfp-5 always secreted first and playing the role as a primer that removes surface water for subsequent tight adhesion. We have also obtained for the first time the tertiary structure of mussel adhesive proteins by homology modelling and molecular dynamics simulations. Members of BBML on this work were first-author Luigi Petrone, co-authors Akshita Kumar, Clarinda Sutanto, Shahrouz Amini, and corresponding author Ali Miserez. This work was a close collaboration with the groups of Chandra Verma at the Bioinformatics Institute at A*Star and Dr. Bruno Zappone from the Italian National Research Council.
22 October 2015
Development of Adhesive Mimics for Anti-Fouling Coatings and Adhesion Testing in the Marine Environment
Our project funded by the Singapore Maritime Institute (SMI) entitled "Development of Adhesive Mimics for Anti-Fouling Coatings and Adhesion Testing in the Marine Environment” has been awarded as one of the top research projects currently supported by SMI to day at the SMI 2015 forum.
16 October 2015
Precipitation of Artificial Structural Proteins and Polysaccharides into NanoCapsules
We have been awarded the inaugural NRF-ANR (“Agence Nationale de la Recherche”) for our proposal “Precipitation of Artificial Structural Proteins and Polysaccharides into NanoCapsules”. Our International partner and Co-PI on this grant is Dr. Julien Bernard who is affiliated with the “Polymer Materials Engineering Laboratory (IMP)" , a laboratory belonging to the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) and located at the “Institut National des Sciences Appliquées (INSA)” in Lyon, France.
About the grant: The joint bilateral grant call between the National Research Foundation (NRF), Prime Minister's Office, Singapore and Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR), France, is a national level collaboration between Singapore and France for French-Singapore collaborative research projects. The grant call seeks to strengthen the collaboration between French and Singaporean research communities in areas of mutual interest in order to achieve world-class scientific and technical results, leading to new and innovative technologies.
21 September 2015
Multi-scale thermal stability of a hard thermoplastic protein-based material
A manuscript entitled "Multi-scale thermal stability of a hard thermoplastic protein-based material" co-led by the BBML and by Dr. Admir Masic from the Max Planck Institute for Colloids and Interfaces appeared today in “Nature Communications”. In this work, we have demonstrated for the first time the potential of the “Squid Sucker Ring Teeth (SRT)” –previously discovered in our lab– to be used as a thermoplastic biopolymer for 3D printing applications. A unique property of SRT is their fully thermo-plastic behaviour, a characteristic which is very uncommon in biopolymers. In collaboration with our colleagues from the Wyss Institute for Bioinspired Engineering at Harvard (James Weaver) and the MIT media lab (Steven Keating and Neri Oxman), we have demonstrated that SRT can be used a recylable biopolymer that can be re-used multiple times during additive manufacturing. We have also elucidated the fundamental structural features, across multiple length scales, responsible for the thermoplastic behaviour of SRT using temperature resolved Small Angle X-ray Scattering, Wide-Angle X-ray Scattering, and Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy. The work opens up many interesting possibilities to develop SRT-based biopolymers as eco-friendly materials in additive manufacturing applications.
02 August 2015
Bioinspired Coacervation for Green Processing of Biomolecular Composites
The BBML has been awarded a Ministry of Education (MOE) Tier 2 grant for our proposal entitled “Bioinspired Coacervation for Green Processing of Biomolecular Composites”. Ali Miserez is the main PI on this grant, with Co-PIs from the School of Biological Sciences (SBS), Profs. Julien Lescar and Konstantin Pervushin.
08 June 2015
Contact damage tolerance of the stomatopod dactyl club and Infiltration of chitin by protein coacervates in squid beak
Two papers from the BBML are appearing on-line today, one in "Nature Materials" and one in Nature Chemical Biology. In the paper appearing in "Nature Materials", entitled “The role of quasi-plasticity in the extreme contact damage tolerance of the stomatopod dactyl club", authored by Shahrouz Amini, Maryam Tadayon, and Ali Miserez from the BBML and Prof. Sridhar Idapalapati from MAE, we have unveiled key mechanisms that endow mantis shrimps’ dactyl clubs with their remarkable impact damage tolerance. Using comprehensive nano- and micro-contact mechanics studies, combined with Raman spectroscopy, we have shown that the impact surface of dactyl clubs exhibit a quasi-plastic contact mechanics response, which is key in absorbing impact energy. We have also shown that the inner layers of the dactyl club strain-harden under contact load, which further enhances the damage tolerance against impact.
The second paper appearing today in "Nature Chemical Biology", entitled “Infiltration of chitin by protein coacervates defines the squid beak mechanical gradient" is the result from a close collaboration with the group of Prof. Herb Waite at UCSB (Dr. YerPeng Tan and Dr. Wei Wei) and the Molecular Engineering Lab/A*Star (MEL, Dr. Shawn Hoon), with Paul Guerette, Cai Hao, Ali Ghadban, and Ali Miserez as contributors from the BBML. In this work, we have first sequenced all major beak proteins that make up the robust squid beak. We have shown that the beak is comprised of 2 major protein families, namely Dosidicus gigas Chitin-Binding Proteins (DgCBPs) and D. gigas His-rich Proteins (DgHBPs). Next, we have demonstrated that DgHBPs form so-called “coacervates”, which is key in the bioprocessing of this remarkable graded structure. This study demonstrates for the first time that protein coacervates play a central role during the processing of chitin/protein bulk biocomposites. According to our study, this phenomenon could be more widely spread in Biology than currently recognised, for instance during the formation of insect exoskeletons (cuticles) or in arthropod fangs (spider and scorpion fangs for instance). Congrats to all for these very thorough studies that spanned over a few years before they finally got published!"
26 May 2015
From Soft Self-Healing Gels to Stiff Films in Suckerin-Based Materials Through Modulation of Crosslink Density and β-Sheet Content
Congratulations to Dawei Ding and other BBML group members (Paul Guerette, Fu Jing, Lihong Zhang) for the publication of his paper entitled “From Soft Self-Healing Gels to Stiff Films in Suckerin-Based Materials Through Modulation of Crosslink Density and β-Sheet Content” in "Advanced Materials". In this work, we have used our recently discovered “suckerin” proteins to prepare biomaterials spanning 7-orders of magnitude of elasticity, from soft hydrogels to very stiff films. We have exploited the unique di-block, co-polymer-like primary structure and Di-Tyrosine cross-linking chemistry to vary the stiffness of suckerin-based materials. We have also shown the excellent biocompatibility of suckerin materials, and this work opens a wide range of possibilities to use suckerins in biomedical applications.
11 Feb 2015
First PhD graduate from BBML
Congratulations to Tianpei Fu, who is the first official student to graduate with a PhD from the lab. It is well-deserved!
24 July 2014
Best poster award at the 6th MRS-S conference on Advanced Materials
Congratulations to Ding Dawei. His poster was selected for the best poster award at the 6th MRS-S conference on Advanced Materials, 22-24 July 2014, Singapore.
02 July 2014
Paper featured in press release and media
Our paper recently published in ACS Nano "Nanoconfined β‐Sheets Mechanically Reinforce the Supra-Biomolecular Network of Robust Squid Sucker Ring Teeth” is featured by the American Chemical Society in a press release and covered in various media (Science Daily, New York Daily)
25 June 2014
GRC presentation by Prof. Ali
Our work on the discovery of a complete new protein family in the sucker ring teeth (SRT) of squids and cephalopods was presented by Prof. Ali Miserez at the “Gordon Research Conference (GRC)” on Bioinspired Materials in Newry (Maine, USA). The conference featured recent advances in the overall field of bioinspired materials by leaders in the field : http://www.grc.org/programs.aspx?year=2014&program=bioinsp
09 June 2014
Nanoconfined β‐Sheets Mechanically Reinforce the Supra-Biomolecular Network of Robust Squid Sucker Ring Teeth
Our paper “Nanoconfined β‐Sheets Mechanically Reinforce the Supra-Biomolecular Network of Robust Squid Sucker Ring Teeth” is published in "ACS Nano".
This work is the culmination of our recent efforts to understand the intriguing sucker ring teeth (SRT), located on the tentacles and arms of cephalopods (squids and cuttlefish). SRT exhibit hard tissues-like mechanical properties, yet are completely non-mineralised and do not contain metal ions either. Instead, they are completely protein-based, and perhaps even more fascinating covalent cross-links between the protein chains are also absent. Thus, SRT are essentially giant supramolecular networks that are thermoplastic-like, a property which is unprecedented in other biological hard tissues and very useful in order to reshape the material at will by simple thermal activation.
The paper main conclusion are three fold. First, we have demonstrated that SRT are made of a protein family –called “suckerins"– with extreme modular design: the entire teeth is a protein complex made of 10 to 20 (depending on the species) highly related proteins, with most of them containing silk-like domains. Second, using a phylogenetic analysis of the modular proteins, we have shown that suckerin are encoded by an ancient gene family which is ~ 350 Millions years old. Third, the work shows that the major contribution to mechanical reinforcement are nanoconfined β-sheets of precise nano-scale dimensions that are optimised for mechanical strengthening. The size of the nanoconfined β-sheets is precisely encoded by the regular placement of Proline residues in suckerin proteins, which act as precise β-sheet breakers.
The work provides an extensive molecular toolbox for molecular biomimcry, using either the full-length suckerin sequences we have discovered or their smaller modular peptidic building blocks that could be exploited in various self-assembly strategies. Collaborators on this work include colleagues at MEL lab/A*STAR (Dr. Shawn Hoon), the Max Planck Institute for Colloids and Interfaces (Dr. Admir Masic), the Wyss Institute for Bioinspired Engineering at Harvard (Dr. James Weaver), and the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology at A*STAR (Dr. Byrappa Venkatesh and Dr. Vydianathan Ravi).
30 Jan 2014
Textured fluorapatite bonded to calcium sulphate strengthen stomatopod raptorial appendages
Our paper “Textured fluorapatite bonded to calcium sulphate strengthen stomatopod raptorial appendages” has been published in “Nature Communications” and is being highlighted as a featured paper on the website of Nature Communications. The work was carried out in collaboration with our colleagues Dr. Admir Masic and Dr. Luca Bertinetti from the Max Planck Institute for Colloids and Interfaces, and with the group of Prof. Haibin Su at MSE. Congrats to Shahrouz, first author of this paper, for his excellent work!
08 Jan 2014
New member Haodong Liu
Welcome to our new PhD student, Haodong Liu, who joined from Tsinghua University in Beijing, where she obtained her Bachelor degree in "Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology".
01 November 2013
New member Dr. Ali Ghadban
We are welcoming a new post-doctoral researcher in our lab, Dr. Ali Ghadban. Ali graduated with his PhD from the University of Grenoble in France, working in the field of polysaccharide polymer chemistry.
09 October 2013
Cover of Nature Biotechnology
Our paper "Accelerating the Design of Biomimetic Materials by Integrating RNA-seq with Proteomics and Materials Science is on the cover of "Nature Biotechnology"!
01 October 2013
Dr. Bram Cantaert from University of Leeds
We are extending a warm welcome to our new collaborator, Dr. Bram Cantaert. Bram recently graduated with his PhD from the University of Leeds in the U.K., working on the effect of confined space on biomineralization processes.
09 September 2013
Accelerating the Design of Biomimetic Materials by Integrating RNA-seq, Proteomics, and Materials Science
Our paper "Accelerating the Design of Biomimetic Materials by Integrating RNA-seq, Proteomics, and Materials Science" has just been published in "Nature Biotechnology", with Paul Guerette, Shahrouz Amini, Gavin Tay, Dawei Ding, and Ali Miserez as authors from the BBML. This work, in close collaboration with the Molecular Engineering Lab (MEL) at A*Star, explores for the first time the usage of high throughput RNA-sequencing for biological materials. By fully integrating RNA-seq with protemics and materials characterization, we have demonstrated that protein sequences of any model system of interest can be obtained in just a few weeks or months.
20 June 2013
Featured in Molecules.org
Our research is featured in Moleclues.org, run by "Molecular Frontiers", which is a global effort to promote the understanding and appreciation of molecular science in society. Check out the video here!
05 March 2013
Phase transition-induced elasticity of alpha-helical bioelastomeric fibres and networks
A paper from the BBML is on the inside cover of "Chemical Society Review (7th March 2013)". The paper by Ali Miserez and Paul Guerette is entitled "Phase transition-induced elasticity of alpha-helical bioelastomeric fibres and networks".
01 September 2012
New members Dr Shiang Jie and Ms. Clarinda
We are welcoming 2 new research staff in the lab. Ms. Clarinda Sutanto graduated with her BSc. from SPMS//NTU and conducted her Final Year Project in our lab, working on purification and characterization of sucker ring teeth proteins. Dr. Shiang Jie Yen just graduated with her PhD from National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan. She will be working on adhesive proteins/substrate interfaces interactions related to Biofouling issues. Welcome to Clarinda and Shiang Jie.
01 August 2012
New members Ms. Fu Jing and Ms. Ye Kehan
We are welcoming 2 new graduate students in the lab, Ms. Fu Jing and Ms. Ye Kehan. Both students just recently graduated with a BSc. from SPMS/NTU, with 1st class honor degrees. Fu Jing will be working on producing high-performant natural fibers by genetic engineering and recombinant expression, while Kehan will be working on biomimetic synthesis of functionalized natural polymer/protein recombinant composites. All the best to both of them for the next 4 years of PhD research work.
06 July 2012
Best Poster at International Conference of Young Researchers on Advanced Materials 2012
Congratulations to Shahrouz Amini, a 1st year PhD student in BBML for being awarded the best poster award at the "International Conference of Young Researchers on Advanced Materials (ICYRAM 2012)".
08 June 2012
The Stomatopod Dactyl Club: A Formidable Damage-Tolerant Biological Hammer
A paper entitled "The Stomatopod Dactyl Club: A Formidable Damage-Tolerant Biological Hammer" with BBML as a main collaborator has been published in"Science". Asst. Prof. Ali Miserez is one of the Co-First Authors of the paper led by our collaborator Dr. James Weaver from Harvard University, with other partnerships from UC Riverside, Purdue University, and Brookhaven National Laboratory. The paper is also highlighted in "Perspectives".
15 May 2012
Congratulations for FYP completion
Congratulations to this year's batch of Final Year Project (FYP) students who just graduated and performed their research projects in the lab. Students from 3 different schools were attached to the lab this year, including from MSE, SBS, and SPMS. All the best to the new graduates and congrats for the hard work: Raymond, Eugene, John, Pauline, Cheng Sheng (all from MSE), Clarinda (SPMS, co-supervised by Dr. Linda Sellou), and Ching Yang (SBS).
13 February 2012
Self-assembly Mechanisms of 3D Protein-Based, Robust Marine Biopolymer
Asst. Prof. Ali Miserez has been awarded ~ SGD 800,000 over 3 years by the Ministry of Education (MOE), for an Academic Tier 2 grant for his proposal entitled: "Self-assembly Mechanisms of 3D Protein-Based, Robust Marine Biopolymer". Prof. Miserez is the main PI on this grant and the Co-PIs that will be collaborating with us are Asst. Prof Brendan Orner (SPMS) and Ass. Prof. Julien Lescar from SBS.
06 February 2012
New member Shu Hui
We are welcoming Shu Hui Hiew as a new graduate student in the lab. She Hui graduated for her BSc and MSc from SPMS here at NTU. She will be working on combinatorial chemistry approaches as a way to elucidate specific interactions in protein-based materials.
06 November 2011
Dr. James Weaver from the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard
We are pleased to welcome Dr. James Weaver for one week from the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard. Dr. Weaver has done groundbreaking work to understand structure/properties relationships of biomineralized structures such as sponge spicules architecture. His work has been on the cover of numerous journals such as Science, Nature Materials, or Advanced Materials.
04 October 2011
New member Dr. Calvin Chu
We are extending a warm welcome to our new lab member Dr. Calvin Chu as a Post doctoral fellow. He graduated from University of Miami: Miller School of Medicine.
01 September 2011
New member Shahrouz Amini
We are extending a warm welcome to our new lab member Shahrouz Amini as a graduate student. He graduated from Biomedical Engineering Department of Amirkabir University of Technology (AUT) with MSc in May 2010.
15 August 2011
New members Dr. Ondrej Zvarec, Zhang Lihong and Ding Dawei
We are extending a warm welcome to our new lab members Dr. Ondrej Zvarec who is joining our group as post doctoral fellow and he obtained his PhD from The University of Adelaide, and the graduate students- Zhang Lihong, graduated with B.Sc from CBC of NTU & Ding Dawei graduated his Master degree from Nanjing University.
30 July 2016
Advanced Material Technologies Award
We are proud to announce that Mr. Arif Fahla Hermawan, who did his undergraduate Final Year Project (FYP) in the BBML, has been awarded the "Advanced Material Technologies Award" for best FYP thesis of 2010-2011. For his FYP, Arif worked on biophysical and biomechanical characterization of marine snail egg case membranes, which are excellent shock absorbing natural polymers. Congratulations to Arif for his excellent achievement !
01 July 2011
New member Dr. Vitaly Lipik
We are extending a warm welcome to Dr. Vitaly Lipik who is joining our group as a senior post-doctoral researcher. Vitaly, who has extensive expertise in polymer chemistry, will be working half-time for the lab and half-time for the School of MSE as person in charge of GC-MS and MALDI-TOF. Vitaly has been working for a few years at MSE under the supervision of Profs. Mark Abadie and Subbu Venkatraman.
01 March 2011
Mr. Yer Peng Tan from UC Santa Barbara
We are pleased to welcome Mr. Yer Peng Tan, who is visiting the lab for 3 weeks. Yer Peng is a PhD student of our collaborator Prof. Herb Waite at UC Santa Barbara, and is working on understanding the biosynthesis and protein chemistry of Squid beaks.
21 January 2011
Singapore NRF Fellowship 2011
The BBML's principal investigator, Asst. Prof. Ali Miserez, has been awarded the Singapore NRF Fellowship 2011, worth of S$ 3millions over 5 years. As stated by the National Research Foundation, the aim of the Singapore NRF Fellowship is "to build a pool of young, brilliant and passionate researchers in various fields of science and technology to add to Singapore's growing research talent pool to help advance our scientific and technological edge and build technopreneurial enterprises. The NRF Fellowship will provide each NRF Fellow with up to S$3 million in research funding support over five years to perform cutting-edge research in Singapore.
07 December 2010
Prof. Herbert Waite from UC Santa Barbara
We are pleased to extend a warm welcome to Prof. Herbert Waite from UC Santa Barbara, who is visiting our lab for one week. Herb has done pioneer work in understanding water-resistant adhesive from marine species, being in particular the first to describe the occurrence and importance of DOPA in mussel adhesive proteins.
03 December 2010
Cross-linking Chemistry of Squid Beak
A paper from the BBML is on the cover of the December 3, 2010 issue of "The Journal of Biological Chemistry". The paper, entitled "Cross-linking Chemistry of Squid Beak" was written in collaboration with Prof. Herbert Waite at UC Santa Barbara and with Mr. Daniel Rubin, a graduate student at Harvard University.
15 November 2010
Dr. Bruno Zappone from the Italian Research Council and the University of Calabria, Italy
We are welcoming Dr. Bruno Zappone from the Italian Research Council and the University of Calabria, Italy, who is visiting us for one week. Dr. Zappone will collaborate on our project on anti-fouling coatings funded by the MPA (see below) and in collaboration with an industrial partner.
10 November 2010
Maritime Clean Energy Research Program
The proposal submitted by Asst. Prof. Ali Miserez as main PI to the "Maritime Clean Energy Research Program" (MCERP) has been awarded ~ SGD 500,000, funded by the Maritime Port Authority (MPA) of Singapore. Co-PIs on the project will include Ass. Prof. Andrew Grimsdale and Prof. Bo Liedberg.