Virus-inspired Function in Engineered Protein Cages.

Edwardson TGW , Hilvert D
Journal of the American Chemical Society
The structural and functional diversity of proteins combined with their genetic programmability has made them indispensable modern materials. Well-defined, hollow protein capsules have proven to be particularly useful due their ability to compartmentalize macromole-cules and chemical processes. To this end, viral capsids are common scaffolds and have been successfully repurposed to produce a suite of practical protein-based nanotechnologies. Recently, the recapitula-tion of viromimetic function in protein cages of nonviral origin has emerged as a strategy to both complement physical studies of natural viruses and produce useful scaffolds for applications. In this perspec-tive, we review recent progress toward generation of virus-like behav-ior in nonviral protein cages through rational engineering and di-rected evolution. These artificial systems can aid our understanding of the emergence of viruses from existing cellular components, as well as provide alternative approaches to tackle problems and open up new opportunities in medicine and biotechnology.

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