Reprogramming Virus Capsids with DNA Origami Nanostructures for Biomedical Advancements

by Mateo Gonzalez
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Reprogrammable Virus Capsids

Reprogramming Virus Capsids with DNA Origami Nanostructures for Biomedical Advancements

Researchers have made significant strides in the field of biomedicine by reprogramming virus capsids using DNA and RNA origami nanostructures. These custom-designed nanostructures can mold the shape and size of virus particles, opening up new possibilities in vaccine development and drug delivery.

Traditionally, virus capsid proteins, which protect a virus’s genetic material, adopt predefined shapes based on the virus strain. However, the recent breakthrough allows scientists to override this natural blueprint and create precisely structured protein assemblies using DNA origami templates.

To achieve this, the scientific team devised a “structured genome” template to assemble capsid proteins. They employed rigid DNA origami structures, precisely folded into the desired template shape, to prevent unwanted deformations and variations in shape. By leveraging electrostatic interactions between the negatively charged DNA nanostructures and positively charged regions of the capsid proteins, they controlled the formation of highly-ordered protein layers that encapsulated the DNA origami.

Cryogenic electron microscopy imaging enabled the visualization of these protein assemblies and allowed precise measurements of changes in assembly geometry due to different templates.

The researchers demonstrated the versatility of their approach by successfully applying it to capsid proteins from various viruses. Additionally, the team explored the integration of RNA into the origami, which could lead to the production of useful or site-specific proteins.

Although DNA origami structures face challenges concerning stability in the presence of DNA-degrading enzymes, the protective protein layer efficiently shields the encapsulated DNA nanostructures from degradation. This protective feature, coupled with the ability to deliver DNA or messenger RNA along with other cargo molecules, holds promising implications for biomedical engineering.

The study was a collaborative effort involving researchers from Aalto University (Finland), the University of Helsinki (Finland), Griffith University (Australia), Tampere University (Finland), and the University of Twente (The Netherlands).

In conclusion, this pioneering work on DNA origami nanostructures and their interaction with virus capsid proteins offers exciting opportunities to advance biomedicine, potentially revolutionizing vaccine design and drug delivery methods.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Reprogrammable Virus Capsids

Q: What are DNA origami nanostructures and how are they used in this study?

A: DNA origami nanostructures are tiny, rigid structures made of DNA, folded precisely into desired templates. In this study, they are utilized to mold the shape of virus capsids, the protective shields of viruses, enabling custom-designed protein assemblies.

Q: What potential applications does the reprogramming of virus capsids offer in biomedicine?

A: Reprogramming virus capsids using DNA origami opens new possibilities in vaccine creation and drug delivery. By customizing the size and shape of virus particles, scientists can fine-tune drug delivery systems and develop more effective vaccines.

Q: How does the electrostatic interaction between DNA nanostructures and capsid proteins contribute to the assembly process?

A: The electrostatic interaction between the negatively charged DNA nanostructures and positively charged regions of capsid proteins drives the formation of highly-ordered protein layers. This process allows researchers to control the encapsulation of DNA origami within the protein assemblies.

Q: What role does cryogenic electron microscopy imaging play in the study?

A: Cryogenic electron microscopy imaging is used to visualize the highly-ordered protein assemblies and accurately measure changes in their geometry resulting from different templates. This advanced imaging technique helps researchers gain valuable insights into the assembly process.

Q: Can this approach be applied to various capsid proteins from different viruses?

A: Yes, the approach is adaptable and demonstrated successfully with capsid proteins from four different viruses. This versatility enhances its potential applications in biomedicine for various virus types.

Q: Are there any challenges associated with DNA origami structures in this study?

A: DNA origami structures face instability in the presence of DNA-degrading enzymes. However, the protective protein layer formed during the assembly efficiently shields the encapsulated DNA nanostructures from degradation, mitigating this issue.

Q: What are the future directions for biomedical engineering based on this research?

A: The combination of protection provided by the protein layer and the functional properties of nucleic acid origami holds promise for biomedical engineering. The potential to deliver DNA or messenger RNA along with other cargo molecules opens up exciting possibilities for drug delivery and therapeutic applications.

More about Reprogrammable Virus Capsids

  • “DNA-origami-directed virus capsid polymorphism” by Iris Seitz, Sharon Saarinen, Esa-Pekka Kumpula, Donna McNeale, Eduardo Anaya-Plaza, Vili Lampinen, Vesa P. Hytönen, Frank Sainsbury, Jeroen J. L. M. Cornelissen, Veikko Linko, Juha T. Huiskonen, and Mauri A. Kostiainen. Published in Nature Nanotechnology. DOI: 10.1038/s41565-023-01443-x

  • Aalto University (Finland): Website

  • University of Helsinki (Finland): Website

  • Griffith University (Australia): Website

  • Tampere University (Finland): Website

  • University of Twente (The Netherlands): Website

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