What is it about?

Enzymes are very useful proteins. These tiny nanomachines carry out vital roles in our cells but are also used in industry and commercially (think of the stain-digesting enzymes in biological washing powders). Often though, proteins can be rather fragile things and some enzymes, when taken outside of their cellular environments, break down and are no longer functional. We solved this problem using a “Russian Doll” approach. We took a common protein called ferritin which has the shape of a hollow sphere and is exceptionally stable, and found a way to take it apart and put it back together again, allowing us to put an enzyme inside. The test enzyme (lysozyme), once inside the cage, was still able to work and continued to do so at high temperatures which would normally inhibit it.

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Why is it important?

Many potentially useful enzymes are quite fragile. To be able to protect them inside cages and build robust structures could be useful for example as industrial catalysts.


Protein cages in general are very interesting because they can be filled inside and modified on the outside giving a wide variety of potential applications. We are interested in using natural cages such as ferritin and also designing completely artificial systems

Professor Jonathan Gardiner Heddle
Jagiellonian University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Three-Dimensional Protein Cage Array Capable of Active Enzyme Capture and Artificial Chaperone Activity, Nano Letters, May 2019, American Chemical Society (ACS), DOI: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.9b01148.
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