Sequential Protein Expression and Capsid Assembly in Cell: Toward the Study of Multiprotein Viral Capsids Using Solid-State Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Techniques

Biochemistry. 2018 Mar 13;57(10):1568-1571. doi: 10.1021/acs.biochem.8b00003. Epub 2018 Feb 23.


While solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance (ssNMR) has emerged as a powerful technique for studying viral capsids, current studies are limited to capsids formed from single proteins or single polyproteins. The ability to selectively label individual protein components within multiprotein viral capsids and the resulting spectral simplification will facilitate the extension of ssNMR techniques to complex viruses. In vitro capsid assembly by combining individually purified, labeled, and unlabeled components in NMR quantities is not a viable option for most viruses. To overcome this barrier, we present a method that utilizes sequential protein expression and in cell assembly of component-specifically labeled viral capsids in amounts suitable for NMR studies. We apply this approach to purify capsids of bacteriophage ϕ6 isotopically labeled on only one of its four constituent protein components, the NTPase P4. Using P4-labeled ϕ6 capsids and the sensitivity enhancement provided by dynamic nuclear polarization, we illustrate the utility of this method to enable ssNMR studies of complex viruses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Bacteriophage phi 6
  • Capsid / metabolism*
  • Microscopy, Electron, Transmission
  • Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, Biomolecular / methods*
  • Viral Proteins / metabolism*
  • Virus Assembly*


  • Viral Proteins