RNA nanotechnology to build a dodecahedral genome of single-stranded RNA virus

Hui Li, Kaiming Zhang, Daniel W. Binzel, Lyudmila S. Shlyakhtenko, Yuri L. Lyubchenko, Wah Chiu, Peixuan Guo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The quest for artificial RNA viral complexes with authentic structure while being non-replicative is on its way for the development of viral vaccines. RNA viruses contain capsid proteins that interact with the genome during morphogenesis. The sequence and properties of the protein and genome determine the structure of the virus. For example, the Pariacoto virus ssRNA genome assembles into a dodecahedron. Virus-inspired nanotechnology has progressed remarkably due to the unique structural and functional properties of viruses, which can inspire the design of novel nanomaterials. RNA is a programmable biopolymer able to self-assemble sophisticated 3D structures with rich functionalities. RNA dodecahedrons mimicking the Pariacoto virus quasi-icosahedral genome structures were constructed from both native and 2ʹ-F modified RNA oligos. The RNA dodecahedron easily self-assembled using the stable pRNA three-way junction of bacteriophage phi29 as building blocks. The RNA dodecahedron cage was further characterized by cryo-electron microscopy and atomic force microscopy, confirming the spontaneous and homogenous formation of the RNA cage. The reported RNA dodecahedron cage will likely provide further studies on the mechanisms of interaction of the capsid protein with the viral genome while providing a template for further construction of the viral RNA scaffold to add capsid proteins for the assembly of the viral nucleocapsid as a model. Understanding the self-assembly and RNA folding of this RNA cage may offer new insights into the 3D organization of viral RNA genomes. The reported RNA cage also has the potential to be explored as a novel virus-inspired nanocarrier.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2390-2400
Number of pages11
JournalRNA Biology
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2021


  • RNA nanostructures
  • RNA nanotechnology
  • cage
  • dodecahedral viral genome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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