Nano Research

, Volume 10, Issue 10, pp 3285–3294 | Cite as

Reaction inside a viral protein nanocage: Mineralization on a nanoparticle seed after encapsulation via self-assembly

Research Article


Protein nanocages are ideal templates for the bio-inspired fabrication of nanomaterials due to several advantageous properties. During the mineralization of nanoparticles (NPs) inside protein nanocages, most studies have employed a common strategy: seed formation inside protein nanocages followed by seeded NP growth. However, the seed formation step is restricted to gentle reaction conditions to avoid damage to the protein nanocages, which may greatly limit the spectrum of seed materials used for NP growth. We put forward a simple route to circumvent such a limitation: encapsulation of a preformed NP as the seed via self-assembly, followed by the growth of an outer metal layer. Using such a method, we succeeded in mineralizing size-tunable Au NPs and Au@Ag core–shell NPs (<10 nm in diameter) with narrow size distributions inside the virus-based NPs of simian virus 40. The present route enables the utilization of NPs synthesized under any conditions as the starting seeds for nanomaterial growth inside protein nanocages. Therefore, it potentially leads to novel bioinorganic chimeric nanomaterials with tailorable components and structures.


protein nanocages mineralization gold nanoparticles gold–silver core–shell nanoparticles self-assembly 


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We greatly appreciate the financial support from the the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 31271076, 31470931 and 91527302) and the Key Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (No. KGZD-EW-T02-3). We are grateful to Dr. D. Gao, B. C. Xu, P. Zhang and A. N. Du at the Center for Instrumental Analysis and Metrology, Wuhan Institute of Virology, CAS for assistance with TEM imaging and Dr. Kun Zhou at Suzhou Institute of Nano-Tech and Nano-Bionics, CAS for help with EDS analysis.

Supplementary material

12274_2017_1541_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (2.2 mb)
Reaction inside a viral protein nanocage: Mineralization on a nanoparticle seed after encapsulation via self-assembly


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Copyright information

© Tsinghua University Press and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Virology, Wuhan Institute of VirologyChinese Academy of SciencesWuhanChina
  2. 2.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.National Laboratory of Biomacromolecules, CAS Center for Excellence in Biomacromolecules, Institute of BiophysicsChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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