What is it about?

Our our new paper with collaborators at University of Durham looks at the mathematics of artificial protein cages. Usually these hollow, nanoscale objects are made as simple convex polyhedra using standard protein building blocks that are simple shapes such as pentagons and hexagons. but here we show that more usual protein building blocks (e.g. hendecagons, heptagons) can be used and still result in cages that appear regular to the naked eye. This widens the space of potential proteins that can be used and therefore the range of properties of the resulting cages. These may be useful in many areas such as drug delivery, vaccines, materials. The work appeared in Proceedings of the Royal Society A

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Why is it important?

Artificial protein cages have a host of potential uses but typically their building blocks have been retstricted to a small subset of proteins of particular shapes this limits the possible types of cages that can be produced. By showing that unexpected protein shapes can make virtually regular cages we expand the possible cages that can be made.


Working with Bernard Piette at Durham was a great experience and further convinced us the power of mathematics in helping answer biological questions.

Professor Jonathan Gardiner Heddle
Jagiellonian University

"Working with the Heddle lab at the Jagiellonian University gave us the opportunity to mathematically discover new geometries, some of which are controversial. While applications in bio-nano-technology motivated our study the geometries could be of interest to the arts and to architecture".

Prof. Bernard Piette
Durham University

I hope the paper will be a useful and inspiring library of near-miss structures. The most exciting part of this project will be to see many of these near-miss assemblies being used in bionanotechnology, medicine and beyond!

MSc Agnieszka Kowalczyk
Jagiellonian University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Characterization of near-miss connectivity-invariant homogeneous convex polyhedral cages, Proceedings of the Royal Society A Mathematical Physical and Engineering Sciences, April 2022, Royal Society Publishing, DOI: 10.1098/rspa.2021.0679.
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