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Oligonucleotide length dependent formation of virus-like particles accepted for publication BNT and NBP publish article together

Understanding the assembly pathway of viruses can contribute to creating monodisperse virus-based materials. In this study the Cowpea Chlorotic Mottle Virus is used to determine the interactions between the capsid proteins of viruses and their cargo. The assembly of the capsid proteins in the presence of different lengths of short single-stranded DNA is studied at neutral pH, where the protein-protein interactions are weak. Chromatography, electrophoresis, microscopy, and light scattering shows that the assembly efficiency and speed of the particles increases with increasing length of oligonucleotides. The minimal length required for assembly at the conditions used here is shown to be 14 nucleotides. Assembly of particles containing such short strands of ssDNA can take almost a month. This slow assembly process enabled the study of intermediate states, confirming a low cooperative assembly for CCMV and allows for further expansion of current assembly theories.

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