Protein cage nanoparticles (PCNs) are attractive platforms for developing functional nanomaterials using biomimetic approaches for functionalization and cargo encapsulation. Many strategies have been employed to direct the loading of molecular cargos inside a wide range of PCN architectures. Here we demonstrate the exploitation of a metal-ligand coordination bond with respect to the direct packing of guest molecules on the interior interface of a virus-like PCN derived from Salmonella typhimurium bacteriophage P22. The incorporation of these guest species was assessed using mass spectrometry, multiangle laser light scattering, and analytical ultracentrifugation. In addition to small-molecule encapsulation, this approach was also effective for the directed synthesis of a large macromolecular coordination polymer packed inside of the P22 capsid and initiated on the interior surface. A wide range of metals and ligands with different thermodynamic affinities and kinetic stabilities are potentially available for this approach, highlighting the potential for metal-ligand coordination chemistry to direct the site-specific incorporation of cargo molecules for a variety of applications.
© 2011 American Chemical Society