Wild-type Cowpea mosaic virus (CPMV) displays no cysteine side chains on the exterior capsid surface and is therefore relatively unreactive with thiol-selective reagents. Four CPMV mutants bearing cysteine residues in one of two exterior positions of the asymmetric unit were created. The mutants were shown to aggregate by virtue of disulfide bond formation in the absence of added reducing agent, bind to metallic gold, and undergo selective reactions at the introduced thiol residues. Controlled aggregation by virtue of biotin-avidin interactions was demonstrated, as was the independent derivatization of reactive lysine and cysteine positions. The ability to introduce such reactivity into a system that can be readily prepared and isolated in gram quantities should open new doors to applications in biochemistry, materials science, and catalysis.
Wang, Q., Lin, T., Johnson, J. E., & Finn, M. G. (2002). Natural supramolecular building blocks: Cysteine-added mutants of Cowpea mosaic virus. Chemistry and Biology, 9(7), 813–819. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1074-5521(02)00166-7