Metal Ion-Induced Self-Assembly of a Multi-Responsive Block Copolypeptide into Well-Defined Nanocapsules

Mark B. van Eldijk, Lise Schoonen, Jeroen J.L.M. Cornelissen, Roeland J.M. Nolte, Jan C.M. van Hest

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)
36 Downloads (Pure)


Protein cages are an interesting class of biomaterials with potential applications in bionanotechnology. Therefore, substantial effort is spent on the development of capsule-forming designer polypeptides with a tailor-made assembly profile. The expanded assembly profile of a triblock copolypeptide consisting of a metal ion chelating hexahistidine-tag, a stimulus-responsive elastin-like polypeptide block, and a pH-responsive morphology-controlling viral capsid protein is presented. The self-assembly of this multi-responsive protein-based block copolymer is triggered by the addition of divalent metal ions. This assembly process yields monodisperse nanocapsules with a 20 nm diameter composed of 60 polypeptides. The well-defined nanoparticles are the result of the emergent properties of all the blocks of the polypeptide. These results demonstrate the feasibility of hexahistidine-tags to function as supramolecular cross-linkers. Furthermore, their potential for the metal ion-mediated encapsulation of hexahistidine-tagged proteins is shown.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2476-2483
Number of pages8
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 11 May 2016


  • Block copolypeptides
  • Elastin-like polypeptides
  • Protein nanocapsules
  • Self-assembly
  • Virus-like particles
  • 2023 OA procedure


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