Synthetic proteins have been created that move in response to their environment in predictable and tunable ways.
These motile molecules were designed from scratch on computers, then produced inside living cells.
To function, natural proteins often shift their shapes in precise ways.
The May 17 issue of Science reports the successful design of molecules that change shape in response to pH changes.
The Institute for Protein Design at the University of Washington School of Medicine led the multi-institutional research.
The researchers set out to create synthetic proteins that self-assemble into designed configurations at neutral pH and quickly disassemble in the presence of acid.