Rationally engineering natural protein assemblies in nanobiotechnology

Curr Opin Biotechnol. 2011 Aug;22(4):485-91. doi: 10.1016/j.copbio.2011.05.003. Epub 2011 Jun 12.


Multimeric protein assemblies are essential components in viruses, bacteria, eukaryotic cells, and organisms where they act as cytoskeletal scaffold, storage containers, or for directional transport. The bottom-up structures can be exploited in nanobiotechnology by harnessing their built-in properties and combining them with new functional modules. This review summarizes the design principles of natural protein assemblies, highlights recent progress in their structural elucidation, and shows how rational engineering can create new biomaterials for applications in vaccine development, biocatalysis, materials science, and synthetic biology.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biocompatible Materials / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Protein Engineering
  • Protein Multimerization
  • Proteins / chemistry*
  • Synthetic Biology


  • Biocompatible Materials
  • Proteins