Capsids of the cowpea chlorotic mottle virus (CCMV) hold great promise for use as nanocarriers in vivo. A major drawback, however, is the lack of stability of the empty wild-type virus particles under physiological conditions. Herein, the assembly behavior and stability under nearly physiological conditions of protein-based block copolymers composed of the CCMV capsid protein and two hydrophobic elastin-like polypeptides are reported. UV/Vis spectroscopy studies, dynamic light-scattering analysis, and TEM measurements demonstrate that both hybrid variants form stable capsids at pH 7.5, physiological NaCl concentration, and 37 °C. The more hydrophobic variant also remains stable in a cell culture medium. These engineered, hybrid CCMV capsid particles can therefore be regarded as suitable candidates for in vivo applications.
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