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Bioconjug Chem. 2007 Jul-Aug;18(4):1140-7. Epub 2007 Jun 30.

Dual-surface-modified bacteriophage MS2 as an ideal scaffold for a viral capsid-based drug delivery system.

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Department of Chemistry, University of California, Berkeley, California 94720-1460, USA.


With the development of covalent modification strategies for viral capsids comes the ability to convert them into modular carrier systems for drug molecules and imaging agents. With this overall goal in mind, we have used two orthogonal modification strategies to decorate the exterior surface of genome-free MS2 capsids with PEG chains, while installing 50-70 copies of a fluorescent dye inside as a drug cargo mimic. Despite the very high levels of modification, the capsids remained in the assembled state, as determined by TEM, size-exclusion chromatography, and dynamic light scattering analysis. The ability of the polymer coating to block the access of polyclonal antibodies to the capsid surface was probed using a sandwich ELISA, which indicated a 90% reduction in binding. Further experiments indicated that biotin groups placed at the distal ends of the polymer chains were still capable of binding to streptavidin, despite their proximity to the PEG layer. Finally, a modular strategy was developed for the attachment of small-molecule targeting groups to the polymer chains through an efficient oxime formation reaction. As a result of these studies, a robust and versatile new platform has emerged for the potential delivery of therapeutic cargo.

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