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ACS Nano. 2010 Jun 22;4(6):3293-301. doi: 10.1021/nn100158k.

Assembly mechanism of the sixty-subunit nanoparticles via interaction of RNA with the reengineered protein connector of phi29 DNA-packaging motor.

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Department of Biomedical Engineering, College of Engineering/College of Medicine, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio 45267, USA.


Bacterial virus phi29 genomic DNA is packaged into a procapsid shell with the aid of a motor containing a 12-subunit connector channel and a hexameric pRNA (packaging RNA) ring. The wide end, or the C-terminus, of the cone-shaped connector is embedded within the procapsid shell, whereas the narrow end, or N-terminus, extends outside of the procapsid, providing a binding location for pRNA. Recently, we have reported the mechanism of in vivo assembly of an ellipsoid nanoparticle with seven connectors through an interaction among a peptide tag. Here we report the formation of a similar nanoparticle in vitro via the addition of DNA or RNA oligos to connector proteins. Free connectors guided by one or two copies of oligonucleotides were assembled into a rosette structure containing 60 subunits of reengineered proteins. The number of oligonucleotides within the particle is length-dependent but sequence-independent. Reversible shifting between the 12- and 60-subunit nanoparticles (between individual connectors and rosette structures, respectively) was demonstrated by the alternative addition of oligonucleotides and the treatment of ribonuclease, suggesting a potential application as a switch or regulator in nanobiotechnology. This advancement allows for a simple method to produce multivalent nanoparticles that contain five 12-unit nanoparticles with defined structure and stoichiometry. That is, it will be possible to assemble nanoparticles in vitro with the combination of 60 assortments of ligands, tags, therapeutic drugs, and diagnostic moieties for multivalent delivery or enhancement of signal detection in nanotechnological and nanomedicinal applications.

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