Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Nanoscale organization is crucial to stimulating an immune response. Using self-assembling proteins as multimerization platforms provides a safe and immunogenic system to vaccinate against otherwise weakly immunogenic antigens. Such multimerization platforms are generally based on icosahedral viruses and have led to vaccines given to millions of people. It is unclear whether synthetic protein nanoassemblies would show similar potency. Here we take the computationally designed porous dodecahedral i301 60-mer and rationally engineer this particle, giving a mutated i301 (mi3) with improved particle uniformity and stability. To simplify the conjugation of this nanoparticle, we employ a SpyCatcher fusion of mi3, such that an antigen of interest linked to the SpyTag peptide can spontaneously couple through isopeptide bond formation (Plug-and-Display). SpyCatcher-mi3 expressed solubly to high yields in Escherichia coli, giving more than 10-fold greater yield than a comparable phage-derived icosahedral nanoparticle, SpyCatcher-AP205. SpyCatcher-mi3 nanoparticles showed high stability to temperature, freeze-thaw, lyophilization, and storage over time. We demonstrate approximately 95% efficiency coupling to different transmission-blocking and blood-stage malaria antigens. Plasmodium falciparum CyRPA was conjugated to SpyCatcher-mi3 nanoparticles and elicited a high avidity antibody response, comparable to phage-derived virus-like particles despite their higher valency and RNA cargo. The simple production, precise derivatization, and exceptional ruggedness of this nanoscaffold should facilitate broad application for nanobiotechnology and vaccine development.

Original publication




Journal article


ACS Nano

Publication Date



bioconjugation, bionanotechnology, nanomedicine, protein engineering, self-assembly, vaccination, virus-like particle