Virus-like particles composed of hepatitis B virus (HBV) or bacteriophage Qβ capsid proteins have been labeled with azide- or alkyne-containing unnatural amino acids by expression in a methionine auxotrophic strain of E. coli. The substitution does not affect the ability of the particles to self-assemble into icosahedral structures indistinguishable from native forms. The azide and alkyne groups were addressed by Cu(I)-catalyzed [3 + 2] cycloaddition: HBV particles were decomposed by the formation of more than 120 triazole linkages per capsid in a location-dependent manner, whereas Qβ suffered no such instability. The marriage of these well-known techniques of sense-codon reassignment and bioorthogonal chemical coupling provides the capability to construct polyvalent particles displaying a wide variety of functional groups with near-perfect control of spacing.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biomedical Engineering
- Pharmaceutical Science
- Organic Chemistry