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Encapsulins: Microbial Nanocompartments With Applications In Biomedicine, Nanobiotechnology And Materials Science.
Tobias W. Giessen
Published 2016 · Biology, Medicine
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Compartmentalization is one of the defining features of life. Cells use protein compartments to exert spatial control over their metabolism, store nutrients and create unique microenvironments needed for essential physiological processes. Encapsulins are a recently discovered class of protein nanocompartments found in bacteria and archaea that naturally encapsulate cargo proteins. A short C-terminal targeting sequence directs the highly specific encapsulation process in vivo. Here, I will initially discuss the properties, diversity and putative function of encapsulins. The unique characteristics and potential uses of the self-sorting cargo-packaging process found in encapsulin systems will then be highlighted. Examples for the application of encapsulins as cell-specific optical nanoprobes and targeted therapeutic delivery systems will be discussed with an emphasis on the ability to integrate multiple functionalities within a single nanodevice. By fusing targeting sequences to non-native proteins, encapsulins can also be used as specific nanocontainers and enzymatic nanoreactors in vivo. I will end by briefly discussing future avenues for encapsulin research related to both basic microbial metabolism and applications in biomedicine, catalysis and materials science.
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