Encapsulation of gold nanoparticles by simian virus 40 capsids

Nanoscale. 2011 Oct 5;3(10):4275-82. doi: 10.1039/c1nr10568j. Epub 2011 Aug 30.


Viral capsid-nanoparticle hybrid structures constitute a new type of nanoarchitecture that can be used for various applications. We previously constructed a hybrid structure comprising quantum dots encapsulated by simian virus 40 (SV40) capsids for imaging viral infection pathways. Here, gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) are encapsulated into SV40 capsids and the effect of particle size and surface ligands (i.e. mPEG and DNA) on AuNP encapsulation is studied. Particle size and surface decoration play complex roles in AuNP encapsulation by SV40 capsids. AuNPs ≥15 nm (when coated with mPEG750 rather than mPEG2000), or ≥10 nm (when coated with 10T or 50T DNA) can be encapsulated. Encapsulation efficiency increased as the size of the AuNPs increased from 10 to 30 nm. In addition, the electrostatic interactions derived from negatively charged DNA ligands on the AuNP surfaces promote encapsulation when the AuNPs have a small diameter (i.e. 10 nm and 15 nm). Moreover, the SV40 capsid is able to carry mPEG750-modified 15-nm AuNPs into living Vero cells, whereas the mPEG750-modified 15-nm AuNPs alone cannot enter cells. These results will improve our understanding of the mechanisms underlying nanoparticle encapsulation in SV40 capsids and enable the construction of new functional hybrid nanostructures for cargo delivery.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Capsid Proteins / chemistry*
  • Capsid Proteins / metabolism
  • Chlorocebus aethiops
  • DNA / chemistry
  • Gold / chemistry*
  • Metal Nanoparticles / chemistry*
  • Metal Nanoparticles / ultrastructure
  • Particle Size
  • Polyethylene Glycols / chemistry
  • Simian virus 40 / metabolism*
  • Vero Cells


  • Capsid Proteins
  • Polyethylene Glycols
  • Gold
  • DNA