Controlled Formation of Emissive Gold Nanoclusters with a Synthetic Self-Assembled Protein Toroid

22 April 2022, Version 2
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


Self-assembled proteins are privileged building blocks for the bottom-up organization of matter at the nanoscale. However, since most proteins are very large, they have to be produced by recombinant expression, which is less versatile and flexible than chemical synthesis. Here, we show that we can bridge the potential of proteins for nanofabrication with the simplicity and versatility of solid-phase peptide synthesis by relying on the self-assembly of the viral protein gp23.1, a small 50-residue protein that oligomerizes in solution to form a stable toroidal hexamer. We report the chemical synthesis and basic biophysical characterization of a gp23.1 mutant and show that its self-assembled hexamer templates the formation of highly monodisperse luminescent gold nanoclusters of about 1.3 nm inside its central cavity. This work demonstrates the versatility of this small self-assembled ring protein for a variety of nanotechnological applications.


supramolecular chemistry
Protein engineering
ring proteins


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