Polyelectrolyte Encapsulation and Confinement within Protein Cage-Inspired Nanocompartments

Qing Liu, Ahmed Shaukat, Daniella Kyllönen, Mauri A. Kostiainen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview Articlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
75 Downloads (Pure)


Protein cages are nanocompartments with a well-defined structure and monodisperse size. They are composed of several individual subunits and can be categorized as viral and non-viral protein cages. Native viral cages often exhibit a cationic interior, which binds the anionic nucleic acid genome through electrostatic interactions leading to efficient encapsulation. Non-viral cages can carry various cargo, ranging from small molecules to inorganic nanoparticles. Both cage types can be functionalized at targeted locations through genetic engineering or chemical modification to entrap materials through interactions that are inaccessible to wild-type cages. Moreover, the limited number of constitutional subunits ease the modification efforts, because a single modification on the subunit can lead to multiple functional sites on the cage surface. Increasing efforts have also been dedicated to the assembly of protein cage-mimicking structures or templated protein coatings. This review focuses on native and modified protein cages that have been used to encapsulate and package polyelectrolyte cargos and on the electrostatic interactions that are the driving force for the assembly of such structures. Selective encapsulation can protect the payload from the surroundings, shield the potential toxicity or even enhance the intended performance of the payload, which is appealing in drug or gene delivery and imaging.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1551
Number of pages22
Issue number10
Early online date24 Sept 2021
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021
MoE publication typeA2 Review article, Literature review, Systematic review


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