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Site Selective Nucleation and Size Control of Gold Nanoparticle Photothermal Antennae on the Pore Structures of a Virus and Confined Drug Delivery

revised on 04.09.2018, 15:58 and posted on 04.09.2018, 15:59 by Candace Benjamin, Zhuo Chen, Peiyuan Kang, Blake A. Wilson, Na Li, Steven O. Nielsen, Zhenpeng Qin, Jeremiah J. Gassensmith

In this article, we show that the surface of the bacteriophage Qβ is equipped with natural ligands for the synthesis of small gold nanoparticles. By exploiting disulfides in the protein secondary structure and the geometry formed from the capsid quaternary structure, we find we can produce regularly arrayed patterns of ~6 nm gold nanoparticles across the surface of the virus-like particle. Experimental and computational analysis provide insight into the formation and stability of this composite. We further show that the entrapped genetic material can hold upwards of 500 molecules of the anti-cancer drug Doxorubicin without leaking and without interfering with the synthesis of the gold nanoparticles. This direct nucleation of nanoparticles on the capsid allows for exceptional conduction of photothermal energy upon nanosecond laser irradiation. As a proof of principle, we demonstrate that this energy is capable of rapidly releasing the drug from the capsid without heating the bulk solution, allowing for highly targeted cell killing in vitro.


National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellows Program (1746053), National Science Foundation (DMR-1654405), Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) (RP170752), National Science Foundation (1631910) and CPRIT (RP160770).


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The University of Texas at Dallas


United States

ORCID For Submitting Author


Declaration of Conflict of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest