ACS applied materials & interfaces

Coat Protein-Dependent Behavior of Poly(ethylene glycol) Tails in Iron Oxide Core Virus-like Nanoparticles.

PMID 25989427


Here we explore the formation of virus-like nanoparticles (VNPs) utilizing 22-24 nm iron oxide nanoparticles (NPs) as cores and proteins derived from viral capsids of brome mosaic virus (BMV) or hepatitis B virus (HBV) as shells. To accomplish that, hydrophobic FeO/Fe3O4 NPs prepared by thermal decomposition of iron oleate were coated with poly(maleic acid-alt-octadecene) modified with poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) tails of different lengths and grafting densities. MRI studies show high r2/r1 relaxivity ratios of these NPs that are practically independent of the polymer coating type. The versatility and flexibility of the viral capsid protein are on display as they readily form shells that exceed their native size. The location of the long PEG tails upon shell formation was investigated by electron microscopy and small-angle X-ray scattering. PEG tails were located differently in the BMV and HBV VNPs, with the BMV VNPs preferentially entrapping the tails in the interior and the HBV VNPs allowing the tails to extend through the capsid, which highlights the differences between intersubunit interactions in these two icosahedral viruses. The robustness of the assembly reaction and the protruding PEG tails, potentially useful in modulating the immune response, make the systems introduced here a promising platform for biomedical applications.