Design of a symmetry-broken tetrahedral protein cage by a method of internal steric occlusion. Academic Article uri icon


  • Methods in protein design have made it possible to create large and complex, self-assembling protein cages with diverse applications. These have largely been based on highly symmetric forms exemplified by the Platonic solids. Prospective applications of protein cages would be expanded by strategies for breaking the designed symmetry, for example, so that only one or a few (instead of many) copies of an exterior domain or motif might be displayed on their surfaces. Here we demonstrate a straightforward design approach for creating symmetry-broken protein cages able to display singular copies of outward-facing domains. We modify the subunit of an otherwise symmetric protein cage through fusion to a small inward-facing domain, only one copy of which can be accommodated in the cage interior. Using biochemical methods and native mass spectrometry, we show that co-expression of the original subunit and the modified subunit, which is further fused to an outward-facing anti-GFP DARPin domain, leads to self-assembly of a protein cage presenting just one copy of the DARPin protein on its exterior. This strategy of designed occlusion provides a facile route for creating new types of protein cages with unique properties.

published proceedings

  • Protein Sci

altmetric score

  • 13.7

author list (cited authors)

  • Gladkov, N., Scott, E. A., Meador, K., Lee, E. J., Laganowsky, A. D., Yeates, T. O., & Castells-Graells, R.

citation count

  • 0

complete list of authors

  • Gladkov, Nika||Scott, Elena A||Meador, Kyle||Lee, Eric J||Laganowsky, Arthur D||Yeates, Todd O||Castells-Graells, Roger

publication date

  • April 2024