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Study of protein cages strengthens Bristol’s position at forefront of synthetic biology

Packing of protein building blocks in spherical shells. Left panel shows an icosahedral arrangement contrasted to a disordered packing in the right panel.

8 August 2017

Professor Dek Woolfson and colleagues from the Bristol BioDesign Institute have come together to study the self-assembly of protein building into protein cages, leading to new research which has potential applications in nanotechnology and synthetic biology.

The paper: Beyond icosahedral symmetry in packings of proteins in spherical shells, describes theoretical work and numerical simulations by a team of mathematicians, theoretical physicists, chemists and biochemists from the University of Bristol's BioDesign Institute, and is published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA. 

The research was led by Professors Tanniemola Liverpool and Noah Linden from the School of Mathematics and Professor Dek Woolfson from the Schools of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and builds on previous research performed in Professor Woolfson’s laboratory on synthetic protein cages. The team’s findings shed light on understanding the regularity of the self-assembled cages, potentially leading to new approaches in protein design for self-assembly and driving new experimental methodologies.

Further information

Paper: Beyond icosahedral symmetry in packings of proteins in spherical shells