Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

The capture of biotin by streptavidin is an inspiration for supramolecular chemistry and a central tool for biological chemistry and nanotechnology, because of the rapid and exceptionally stable interaction. However, there is no robust orthogonal interaction to this hub, limiting the size and complexity of molecular assemblies that can be created. Here we combined traptavidin (a streptavidin variant maximizing biotin binding strength) with an orthogonal irreversible interaction. SpyTag is a peptide engineered to form a spontaneous isopeptide bond to its protein partner SpyCatcher. SpyTag or SpyCatcher was successfully fused to the C-terminus of Dead streptavidin subunits. We were able to generate chimeric tetramers with n (0 ≤ n ≤ 4) biotin binding sites and 4-n SpyTag or SpyCatcher binding sites. Chimeric SpyAvidin tetramers bound precise numbers of ligands fused to biotin or SpyTag/SpyCatcher. Mixing chimeric tetramers enabled assembly of SpyAvidin octamers (8 subunits) or eicosamers (20 subunits). We validated assemblies using electrophoresis and native mass spectrometry. Eicosameric SpyAvidin was used to cluster trimeric major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I:β2-microglobulin:peptide complexes, generating an assembly with up to 56 components. MHC eicosamers surpassed the conventional MHC tetramers in acting as a powerful stimulus to T cell signaling. Combining ultrastable noncovalent with irreversible covalent interaction, SpyAvidins enable a simple route to create robust nanoarchitectures.

Original publication




Journal article


J Am Chem Soc

Publication Date





12355 - 12363


Binding Sites, Biotin, Humans, Jurkat Cells, Models, Molecular, Peptides, Protein Multimerization, Protein Stability, Streptavidin