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Structure-based engineering of an icosahedral virus for nanomedicine and nanotechnology.

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Department of Cell Biology, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA.


A quintessential tenet of nanotechnology is the self-assembly of nanometer-sized components into devices. Biological macromolecular systems such as viral particles were found to be suitable building blocks for nanotechnology for several reasons: viral capsids are extremely robust and can be produced in large quantities with ease, the particles self-assemble into monodisperse particles with a high degree of symmetry and polyvalency, they have the propensity to form arrays, and they offer programmability through genetic and chemical engineering. Here, we review the recent advances in engineering the icosahedral plant virus Cowpea mosaic virus (CPMV) for applications in nano-medicine and -technology. In the first part, we will discuss how the combined knowledge of the structure of CPMV at atomic resolution and the use of chimeric virus technology led to the generation of CPMV particles with short antigenic peptides for potential use as vaccine candidates. The second part focuses on the chemical addressability of CPMV. Strategies to chemically attach functional molecules at designed positions on the exterior surface of the viral particle are described. Biochemical conjugation methods led to the fabrication of electronically conducting CPMV particles and networks. In addition, functional proteins for targeted delivery to mammalian cells were successfully attached to CPMV. In the third part, we focus on the utilization of CPMV as a building block for the generation of 2D and 3D arrays. Overall, the potential applications of viral nanobuilding blocks are manifold and range from nanoelectronics to biomedical applications.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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