Raffaele Mezzenga's research while affiliated with Nanyang Technological University and other places

Publications (494)

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Tailoring the hydrophilicity of solid surfaces with a strong affinity to water has been extensively explored in the last 20 years, but studies have been limited to the single function of wettability. Here, we extend the multifunctional properties of tailored surface films from exhibiting superwettability to facilitating biological activities. We sh...
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Amyloid fibrils from plant-based food protein sources bear a large unexploited potential for applications in food and other biomaterials due to their techno-functional features. However, their low solubility and highly complex, inhomogeneous protein composition often hamper fibrillization. The objective of this study was to evaluate the feasibility...
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Biodegradable polymers obtained from renewable resources are urgently needed to help mitigating the environmental burden of plastic pollution. Herein, a green process is developed to obtain protein‐based bioplastics through valorization of rapeseed cake. First, the effects of different protein extraction protocols are investigated, including water...
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Outbreaks of waterborne viruses pose a massive threat to human health, claiming the lives of hundreds of thousands of people every year. Adsorption-based filtration offers a promising facile and environmentally friendly approach to help provide safe drinking water to a world population of almost 8 billion people, particularly in communities that la...
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The fundamental understanding of the gelation kinetics, stress relaxation and temporal evolution in colloidal filamentous gels is central to many aspects of soft and biological matter, yet a complete description of the inherent complex dynamics of these systems is still missing. By means of photon correlation imaging (PCI), we studied the gelation...
Preprint
RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) are crucial regulators of gene expression and often comprise well-defined domains interspersed by flexible, intrinsically disordered regions. The structure determination of ribonucleoprotein complexes involving such RBPs is not common practice and requires integrative structural modeling approaches due to the fact that t...
Preprint
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has revealed that developing effective therapeutics against viruses might be outpaced by emerging variants, waning immunity, vaccine skepticism/hesitancy, lack of resources, and the time needed to develop virus-specific therapeutics, emphasizing the importance of non-pharmaceutical interventions as the first line of de...
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For each kilogram of food protein wasted, between 15 and 750 kg of CO2 end up in the atmosphere. With this alarming carbon footprint, food protein waste not only contributes to climate change but also significantly impacts other environmental boundaries, such as nitrogen and phosphorus cycles, global freshwater use, change in land composition, chem...
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COVID-19 is primarily known as a respiratory disease caused by SARS-CoV-2. However, neurological symptoms such as memory loss, sensory confusion, severe headaches, and even stroke are reported in up to 30% of cases and can persist even after the infection is over (long COVID). These neurological symptoms are thought to be produced by the virus infe...
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Innovative precise clinical approaches to protect humans from the alarming global growth of chronic disease epidemics, such as metabolic syndrome (MetS), are urgently needed. Here, we introduce protein hydrogels developed through the self-assembly of flavonoids and protein amyloid fibrils as a possible approach to mitigate obesity. After oral admin...
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Water scarcity is a worldwide concern with various implications, such as widespread pollution with heavy metals and organic pollutants, resulting in global threats to the environment and human health, and calling for innovative remediation strategies. We show here that the capability of protein-based carbon aerogels for removing contaminants from w...
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Reactive amyloid oligomers are responsible for cytotoxicity in amyloid pathologies and because of their unstable nature, characterizing their behaviour is a challenge. The physics governing the self-assembly of proteins in crowded conditions is extremely complex and its comprehension, despite its paramount relevance to understanding molecular mecha...
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The maturation of liquid-like protein condensates into amyloid fibrils has been associated with neurodegenerative diseases. Here, we analyze the amyloid formation mediated by condensation of the low-complexity domain of hnRNPA1, a protein involved in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). We show that phase separation and fibrillation are connected b...
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Facile geometric-structural response of liquid crystalline colloids to external fields enables many technological advances. However, the relaxation mechanisms for liquid crystalline colloids under mobile boundaries remain still unexplored. Here, by combining experiments, numerical simulations and theory, we describe the shape and structural relaxat...
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A sustainable hybrid aerogel based on β-lactoglobulin amyloid fibril/UiO-66-NH2 is developed for environmental remediation. The hybrid aerogel’s CO2 capture and water purification performances were investigated. The hybrid aerogel can achieve...
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Water pollution is one of the major global threats brought about by industrial, agricultural, and any other antropogenic activity. Heavy metals represent a large group of water pollutants that can accumulate in the human body, causing cancer and mutagenic diseases. Technologies currently used to treat polluted wastewaters of heavy metals employ che...
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Cervical cancer is one of the most common cancers affecting women worldwide. There are an estimated 570.000 new cases of cervical cancer each year and conventional treatments can cause severe side effects. In this work we developed a platform for vaginal administration of lipophilic drugs for cervical cancer treatment. We formulated mucoadhesive cu...
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In recent years, lipid bicontinuous cubic liquid-crystalline nanoparticles known as cubosomes have been under investigation because of their favorable properties as drug nanocarriers useful for anticancer treatments. Herein, we present organic/inorganic hybrid, theranostic cubosomes stabilized in water with a shell of alternate layers of chitosan,...
Preprint
Nucleation and growth (N&G) - the emergence of a new phase within an initially homogeneous one - is one of the most important physical phenomena by which gas-liquid, liquid-liquid and solid-liquid phase separation takes place. Accordingly, thermodynamics sets the asymptotic boundaries towards which the system must evolve, while kinetics tries to co...
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Amyloids were long viewed as irreversible, pathological aggregates, often associated with neurodegenerative diseases. However, recent insights challenge this view, providing evidence that reversible amyloids can form upon stress conditions and fulfil crucial cellular functions. Yet, the molecular mechanisms regulating functional amyloids and the di...
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Amyloid functional materials from amyloid fibril building blocks, produced in vitro from amyloidogenic natural proteins or synthetic peptides, show diverse functionalities ranging from environmental science and biomedicine, to nanotechnology and biomaterials. However, sustainable and affordable sources of amyloidogenic proteins remain the bottlenec...
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Functional Amyloid Materials The cover art represents an artist view of the black/white Janus aerogels floating over the surface of an imaginary lake surrounded by cows producing the milk proteins from which the aerogels are produced. These aerogels can serve for solar‐based water purification, producing safe drinking water at virtually no cost and...
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Solar‐Based Water Purification The cover art representing article number 2100309 by Raffaele Mezzenga and co‐workers depicts an artist's view of black/white Janus aerogels floating over the surface of an imaginary lake surrounded by cows producing the milk proteins from which the aerogels are made. These aerogels can be used for solar‐based water p...
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Electrocatalysis offers great promise for water purification but is limited by low active area and high uncontrollability of electrocatalysts. To overcome these constraints, we propose hybrid bulk electrodes by synthesizing and binding Pd nanocatalyst (nano-Pd) to the electrodes via amyloid fibrils (AFs). The AFs template is effective for controlli...
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Electrocatalysis offers great promise for water purification but is limited by low active area and high uncontrollability of electrocatalysts. To overcome these constraints, we propose hybrid bulk electrodes by synthesizing and binding Pd nanocatalyst (nano-Pd) to the electrodes via amyloid fibrils (AFs). The AFs template is effective for controlli...
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The shape of nanoparticles is a crucial parameter that affects their fundamental properties. Herein, we report a straightforward approach wherein addition of a small organic molecule (transformer) can induce metamorphosis of the nanoparticle shape without altering the chemical structure of the constituent polymers. Importantly, this method is appli...
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Controlled polymerizations have enabled the production of nanostructured materials with different shapes, each exhibiting distinct properties. Despite the importance of shape, current morphological transformation strategies are limited in polymer scope, alter the chemical structure, require high temperatures, and are fairly tedious. Herein we prese...
Preprint
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COVID-19 is primarily known as a respiratory disease caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2. However, neurological symptoms such as memory loss, sensory confusion, cognitive and psychiatric issues, severe headaches, and even stroke are reported in as many as 30% of cases and can persist even after the infection is over (so-called ‘long COVID’). These neuro...
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Liquid-Crystalline Droplets In article number 2106155, Raffaele Mezzenga and co-workers demonstrate a schematic representation of amyloid fibrils confined within a liquid-crystalline droplet formed by liquid–liquid-crystalline phase separation, and organized in a chiral nematic conformation, capable of guiding the spatial and orientational distribu...
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Despite their link to neurodegenerative diseases, amyloids of natural and synthetic sources can also serve as building blocks for functional materials, while possessing intrinsic photonic properties. Here, it is demonstrated that orientationally ordered amyloid fibrils exhibit polarization-dependent fluorescence, and can mechanically align rod-shap...
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The highly efficient utilization of bioresources and natural organic wastes has attracted great attention, due to the high-speed consumption and shortage of energy in modern society. Aerogels, attributable to their outstanding properties and potential applications in diverse fields, have been a major topic of innovative materials research in the la...
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Water purification from per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), as a group of persistent and mobile fluoro-organic contaminants, is receiving increasing attention worldwide due to the ubiquitous presence of these highly toxic compounds. To reduce the risk of exposure of human life to PFASs and their dispersion in the environment, various tech...
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The tap water quality in Peru fails to meet the World Health Organization (WHO) drinking water standards; consequently, the local population in Peru has been exposed over the last few years to harmful arsenic levels through water consumption. A field study was conducted in Peru between 2019 and 2020 using granular adsorbers and hybrid membranes bas...
Preprint
Full-text available
COVID-19 is primarily known as a respiratory disease caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2. However, neurological symptoms such as memory loss, sensory confusion, cognitive and psychiatric issues, severe headaches, and even stroke are reported in as many as 30% of cases and can persist even after the infection is over (so-called 'long COVID'). These neuro...
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Design and fabrication of versatile adsorbents for universal water purification following green chemistry principles remain challenging. Here, it is shown that amyloid fibrils from protein waste can be used as a functional scaffold for metal organic framework (MOF) biomimetic mineralization. The resulting amyloid fibrils/ZIF-8 hybrid aerogels can e...
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The billion tons of synthetic‐polymer‐based materials (i.e. plastics) produced yearly are a great challenge for humanity. Nature produces even more natural polymers, yet they are sustainable. Proteins are sequence‐defined natural polymers that are constantly recycled when living systems feed. Digestion is the protein depolymerization into amino aci...
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Protein Recycling In article number 2104581, Sebastian Josef Maerkl, Francesco Stellacci, and co-workers introduce an idealized representation of nature-inspired circular-economy recycling (NaCRe) for proteins, a recycling approach where generic mixtures of protein-based materials are depolymerized into their constituent amino acids, which in turn...
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We report on the application of an innovative whey protein amyloids-carbon hybrid filter for the removal and disposal of the long-lived radioactive fission product 137Cs from aqueous samples. Test experiments revealed a reduction of 137Cs radioactivity by a factor of 340 compared to the initial solution, with an efficiency as high as 99.7%. The ads...
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We introduce a green and efficient approach for removing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) based on the β-lactoglobulin amyloid fibril membrane. The membrane exhibits superior adsorption capability for long-chain PFASs. At low pH, the membrane efficiency improved significantly due to enhanced electrostatic interactions between positively...
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Solar distillation is an appealing and facile technology for seawater desalination and water purification, but constructing stable, environmentally‐friendly, and cost‐effective solar evaporators often remain unfeasible. Here, amyloid hybrid aerogels are introduced for universal and renewable freshwater production by relying on the combination of su...
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We investigate the static and dynamic states of water network during the phase transitions from double gyroid(Ia3d) to double diamond (Pn3m) bicontinuous cubic phases and from the latter to the reverse hexagonal (HII) phase in monolinolein based lipidic mesophases by combining FTIR and broadband dielectric spectroscopy (BDS). In both cubic(s)and HI...
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We investigate the static and dynamic states of water network during the phase transitions from double gyroid (Ia3d) to double diamond (Pn m) bicontinuous cubic phases and from the latter to the reverse hexagonal (HII) phase in monolinolein based lipidic mesophases by combining FTIR and broadband dielectric spectroscopy (BDS). In both cubic(s) and...
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Minimizing the spread of viruses in the environment is the first defence line when fighting outbreaks and pandemics, but the current COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates how difficult this is on a global scale, particularly in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way. Here we introduce and develop a sustainable and biodegradable antiviral filtratio...
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The propensity to self-assemble into amyloid fibrils with a shared cross-β architecture is a generic feature of proteins. Amyloid-related diseases affect millions of people worldwide, yet they are incurable and cannot be effectively prevented, largely due to the irreversible assembly and extraordinary stability of amyloid fibrils. Recent studies su...
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β-Lactoglobulin amyloid fibrils are bio-colloids of high interest in many fields (e.g. water purification, cell growth, drug delivery and sensing). While the mechanical properties of pure amyloid fibril gels meet the needs of some applications, mechanical fragility often hinders a wider usage basin. In this work, we present a simple and sustainable...
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The process of liquid-liquid crystalline phase separation (LLCPS) in filamentous colloids is at the very core of multiple biological, physical and technological processes of broad significance. However, the complete theoretical understanding of the process is still missing. LLCPS involves the nucleation, growth and up-concentration of anisotropic d...
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The ability of gut bacterial pathogens to escape immunity by antigenic variation—particularly via changes to surface-exposed antigens—is a major barrier to immune clearance¹. However, not all variants are equally fit in all environments2,3. It should therefore be possible to exploit such immune escape mechanisms to direct an evolutionary trade-off....
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Cryo-enzymology provides the possibility to develop unconventional biological reactions and detect intermediates in ultrafast enzymatic catalysis processes, but also illuminates the understanding of life principles in extremely cold environments. The scarcity of biological or biomimetic host systems that provide liquid water at subzero temperatures...
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Petrochemical-based plastics have not only contaminated all parts of the globe, but are also causing potentially irreversible damage to our ecosystem because of their non-biodegradability. As bioplastics are limited in number, there is an urgent need to design and develop more biodegradable alternatives to mitigate the plastic menace. In this regar...
Preprint
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Plastic waste production is a global challenging problem since its accumulation in the environment is causing devastating effects on the planet's ecosystem. Sustainable and green solutions are urgently needed, and this pairs with increasingly stronger regulations combined with improved ecological awareness. This study proposes a simple, scalable an...
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Phytantriol-based lipidic mesophases (LMs) are introduced as a platform for cryoenzymology, which relies on the presence of liquid water in LMs at subzero temperatures. After incorporation into LMs, the model enzyme Benzaldehyde lyase (BAL) shows high cryogenic stability and activity. In contrast, BAL in bulk solution undergoes significant secondar...
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Water scarcity is rapidly spreading across the planet, threatening the population across the five continents and calling for global sustainable solutions. Water reclamation is the most ecological approach for supplying clean drinking water. However, current water purification technologies are seldom sustainable, due to high-energy consumption and n...
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We present the optimization of experimental conditions to yield long, rigid apoferritin protein amyloid fibrils, as well as the corresponding fibrillation pathway. Fibril growth kinetics was followed using atomic force microscopy (AFM), transmission electron microscopy (TEM), dynamic light scattering (DLS), circular dichroism (CD), fourier-transfor...
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Physical interactions between vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), a central player in blood endothelial cell biology, and fibronectin, a major fibrillar protein of the extracellular matrix, are important determinants of angiogenic activity in health and disease. Conditions signaling the need for new blood vessel growth, such as hypoxia and l...
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Glycosylation is a crucial post-translational modification for a wide range of functionalities. Adhesive protein-based biomaterials in nature rely on heavily glycosylated proteins such as spider silk and mussel adhesive proteins. Engineering protein-based biomaterials genetically enables desired functions and characteristics. Additionally, utilizat...