Self-assembled Protein Cube

Self-assembled Protein Cube


Designing proteins that self-assemble into a desired shape is a challenge, especially for relatively large structures.

Todd O. Yeates, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), USA, and colleagues have created a porous self-assembling protein cage. It is comprised of 24 subunits, has a diameter of 225 Å with large openings into the inner cavity and a molecular weight of 750 kDa. They combined two natural protein oligomers using an α-helix linker and characterized the resulting structure by X-ray crystallography. Mass spectrometry and electron microscopy revealed that other assembled forms exist in solution.

While this particular cage might be too porous to carry a cargo, the researchers think the same design principles could lead to more closed structures that are suitable as containers.


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