Recently, a new class of prokaryotic compartments, collectively called encapsulins or protein nanocompartments, has been discovered. The shell proteins of these structures self-organize to form icosahedral compartments with a diameter of 25-42 nm, while one or more cargo proteins with various functions can be encapsulated in the nanocompartment. Non-native cargo proteins can be loaded into nanocompartments and the surface of the shells can be further functionalized, which allows for developing targeted drug delivery systems or using encapsulins as contrast agents for magnetic resonance imaging. Since the genes encoding encapsulins can be integrated into the cell genome, encapsulins are attractive for investigation in various scientific fields, including biomedicine and nanotechnology.
Keywords: MRI; cell labeling; encapsulin; nanocompartment.