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In-vitro self-assembly of bacterial pilus toward understanding biological long-range electron transport and the formation of conductive polymers for tissue regeneration (ConPilus)
Start date: Nov 1, 2014, End date: Oct 31, 2016 PROJECT  FINISHED 

The extraordinary electron transport (ET) via the bacterial pilus has attracted much attention in recent years as they exhibit highly efficient electrical conductivity across mm’s (or even cm’s) length scales. However, there is no consensus about the specific ET mechanism via the pilus, and it seems that both the pilus structure, which is composed of a small protein, and the cytochromes array along the pilus have a role in the efficient ET. All of the measurements up to now have been conducted by using the bacterial biofilm or by trying to ‘catch’ a single pilus. This begs for a new ‘cleaner’ type of experiment in order to systematically study the ET properties along the pilus. Thus, the first goal of this proposal is to express the genes for the pilus protein along with the gene for the bacterial cytochrome, and try to self-assemble the pilus in-vitro. The lateral and perpendicular ET of individual pilus will be measured using several techniques in order to understand the predominant ET mechanism via the bacterial pilus. The next step of the proposal will include the use of the bacterial pilus to form a polymer with superior properties, such as high conductivity, redox stability, biocompatibility, flexibility and three-dimensional geometry. These set of characteristics are ideal toward cardiac and neural cell scaffolding. Thus, the final goal of the proposal will be to use the pilus-based polymers for cell scaffolding and tissue regeneration applications.
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