Prestress strengthens the shell of Norwalk virus nanoparticles

Marian Baclayon, Glen K Shoemaker, Charlotte Uetrecht, Sue E Crawford, Mary K Estes, B V Venkataram Prasad, Albert J R Heck, Gijs J L Wuite, Wouter H Roos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)


We investigated the influence of the protruding domain of Norwalk virus-like particles (NVLP) on its overall structural and mechanical stability. Deletion of the protruding domain yields smooth mutant particles and our AFM nanoindentation measurements show a surprisingly altered indentation response of these particles. Notably, the brittle behavior of the NVLP as compared to the plastic behavior of the mutant reveals that the protruding domain drastically changes the capsid's material properties. We conclude that the protruding domain introduces prestress, thereby increasing the stiffness of the NVLP and effectively stabilizing the viral nanoparticles. Our results exemplify the variety of methods that nature has explored to improve the mechanical properties of viral capsids, which in turn provides new insights for developing rationally designed, self-assembled nanodevices.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4865-4869
Number of pages5
JournalNano Letters
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • nanomaterial
  • article
  • chemistry
  • compressive strength
  • conformation
  • hardness
  • materials testing
  • mechanical stress
  • Norovirus
  • surface property
  • ultrastructure
  • virion

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