Insights into Stabilization of a Viral Protein Cage in Templating Complex Nanoarchitectures: Roles of Disulfide Bonds



As a typical protein nanostructure, virus-based nanoparticle (VNP) of simian virus 40 (SV40), which is composed of pentamers of the major capsid protein of SV40 (VP1), has been successfully employed in guiding the assembly of different nanoparticles (NPs) into predesigned nanostructures with considerable stability. However, the stabilization mechanism of SV40 VNP remains unclear. Here, the importance of inter-pentamer disulfide bonds between cysteines in the stabilization of quantum dot (QD)-containing VNPs (VNP-QDs) is comprehensively investigated by constructing a series of VP1 mutants of cysteine to serine. Although the presence of a QD core can greatly enhance the assembly and stability of SV40 VNPs, disulfide bonds are vital to stability of VNP-QDs. Cysteine at position 9 (C9) and C104 contribute most of the disulfide bonds and play essential roles in determining the stability of SV40 VNPs as templates to guide assembly of complex nanoarchitectures. These results provide insightful clues to understanding the robustness of SV40 VNPs in organizing suprastructures of inorganic NPs. It is expected that these findings will help guide the future design and construction of protein-based functional nanostructures.