Self-Assembly of Viral Capsid Proteins Driven by Compressible Nanobubbles

Minmin Zhang*, Shuqin Cao, Aijie Liu, Jeroen J.L.M. Cornelissen, Serge G. Lemay

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
98 Downloads (Pure)


Colloidal nanobubbles occur in gas-saturated aqueous solutions following high power water electrolysis. Here the influence of nanobubble solutions on the self-assembly properties of viral capsid proteins (CP) was investigated. Interestingly, we found that gas solutions were able to trigger the self-assembly of CP of cowpea chlorotic mottle virus (CCMV) in the absence of the viral genome, most likely by acting as a negatively charged template. The process was demonstrated by three distinct techniques, namely, dynamic light scattering (DLS), atomic force microscopy (AFM), and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Furthermore, nanobubble-induced self-assembly of viral CP was found to depend on protein concentration. Low CP concentrations led to assembly of 18 nm virus-like particles (VLPs), comparable to T = 1 (Casper and Klug triangulation number) virus capsids, whereas high CP concentrations led to 28 nm VLPs (similar to T = 3 capsids). This paves a new route for self-assembly of VLPs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number11
Pages (from-to)10421-10424
Number of pages4
JournalThe journal of physical chemistry letters
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - 17 Dec 2020


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