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Chemistry in the Confinement of Protein Cages

Final Report Summary - PROTCAGE (Chemistry in the Confinement of Protein Cages)

Protein cages are common structures in biology, often found in viruses, but also in bacteria where these cages have organelle-like functions. In this project, we have developed methodologies to load protein cages from plant viruses and bacterial origin (so-called encapsulins), with non-natural cargo. On one hand this non-natural cargo was used to better understand the assembly and formation parameters of the protein cage, and on the other to investigate how the internal, confined, physical conditions differ from those outside of the cage.
In the second stage of the project, the encapsulation of biocatalysts inside the protein cage, combined with their controlled entry in living cells, yielded artificial organelles. Under the chosen conditions the encased catalysts are still active and interact with the metabolism of the cell. Eventually, this can lead to their application as drug carrier, enzyme replacement therapy or vaccines.