A de novo topology of virus-like assembly is reported. The design is a trifaceted coiled-coil peptide helix, which self-assembles into ultrasmall, monodisperse, anionic virus-like shells that encapsulate and transfer both RNA and DNA into human cells. Unlike existing artificial systems, these shells share the same physical characteristics of viruses being anionic, nonaggregating, abundant, hollow, and uniform in size, while effectively mediating gene silencing and transgene expression. These are the smallest virus-like structures reported to date, both synthetic and native, with the ability to adapt and transfer small and large nucleic acids. The design thus offers a promising solution for engineering bespoke artificial viruses with desired functions.
Noble, J., De Santis, E., Ravi, J., Lamarre, B., Castelletto, V., Mantell, J., Ray, S., & Ryadnov, M. (2016). A De Novo Virus-Like Topology for Synthetic Virions. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 37(138), 12202–12210. https://doi.org/10.1021/jacs.6b05751