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Nanotechnology. 2013 Jan 18;24(2):025605. doi: 10.1088/0957-4484/24/2/025605. Epub 2012 Dec 10.

Fabrication and characterization of gold nano-wires templated on virus-like arrays of tobacco mosaic virus coat proteins.

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  • 1Astbury Centre for Structural Molecular Biology, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK.


The rod-shaped plant virus tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) is widely used as a nano-fabrication template, and chimeric peptide expression on its major coat protein has extended its potential applications. Here we describe a simple bacterial expression system for production and rapid purification of recombinant chimeric TMV coat protein carrying C-terminal peptide tags. These proteins do not bind TMV RNA or form disks at pH 7. However, they retain the ability to self-assemble into virus-like arrays at acidic pH. C-terminal peptide tags in such arrays are exposed on the protein surface, allowing interaction with target species. We have utilized a C-terminal His-tag to create virus coat protein-templated nano-rods able to bind gold nanoparticles uniformly. These can be transformed into gold nano-wires by deposition of additional gold atoms from solution, followed by thermal annealing. The resistivity of a typical annealed wire created by this approach is significantly less than values reported for other nano-wires made using different bio-templates. This expression construct is therefore a useful additional tool for the creation of chimeric TMV-like nano-rods for bio-templating.

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