Waterproofin’ with Hydrophobin
● Did you know that on average, there are between 1,000 and 10,000 fungal spores in every cubic meter of air? You breathe between 10 and 20 cubic meters of air every day, and every breath contains between 1 and 10 spores, of many different types.
● These spores have a secret to staying dry and airborne: they are covered by a unique coat protein called hydrophobin, that repels water, but allows gases to exchange, like a botanical GORE-TEX. One side of the layer is water-loving, and the other is as repellent to water as Teflon or paraffin.
● Molecules of hydrophobin self-assemble to form a “rodlet” pictured in the inset, that has surprising similarity to amyloid fibrils found in plaques in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. So not only could this protein lead to better design of nanoparticles (e.g., for drug delivery), but it may help understand a debilitating disease.
REF (open access): Hydrophobins: unique fungal proteins Bayry et al. (2012) http://goo.gl/gpzAbA