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Artificial Protein Cage with Unusual Geometry and Regularly Embedded Gold Nanoparticles

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journal contribution
posted on 07.03.2022, 14:35 by Karolina Majsterkiewicz, Artur P. Biela, Sourav Maity, Mohit Sharma, Bernard M. A. G. Piette, Agnieszka Kowalczyk, Szymon Gaweł, Soumyananda Chakraborti, Wouter H. Roos, Jonathan G. Heddle
Artificial protein cages have great potential in a number of areas including cargo capture and delivery and as artificial vaccines. Here, we investigate an artificial protein cage whose assembly is triggered by gold nanoparticles. Using biochemical and biophysical methods we were able to determine both the mechanical properties and the gross compositional features of the cage which, combined with mathematical models and biophysical data, allowed the structure of the cage to be predicted. The accuracy of the overall geometrical prediction was confirmed by the cryo-EM structure determined to sub-5 Å resolution. This showed the cage to be nonregular but similar to a dodecahedron, being constructed from 12 11-membered rings. Surprisingly, the structure revealed that the cage also contained a single, small gold nanoparticle at each 3-fold axis meaning that each cage acts as a synthetic framework for regular arrangement of 20 gold nanoparticles in a three-dimensional lattice.

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