Crystallization, Reentrant Melting, and Resolubilization of Virus Nanoparticles

Roi Asor, Orly Ben-Nun-Shaul, Ariella Oppenheim, Uri Raviv*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Crystallization is a fundamental and ubiquitous process that is well understood in the case of atoms or small molecules, but its outcome is still hard to predict in the case of nanoparticles or macromolecular complexes. Controlling the organization of virus nanoparticles into a variety of 3D supramolecular architectures is often done by multivalent ions and is of great interest for biomedical applications such as drug or gene delivery and biosensing, as well as for bionanomaterials and catalysis. In this paper, we show that slow dialysis, over several hours, of wild-type Simian Virus 40 (wt SV40) nanoparticle solution against salt solutions containing MgCl2, with or without added NaCl, results in wt SV40 nanoparticles arranged in a body cubic center crystal structure with Im3m space group, as a thermodynamic product, in coexistence with soluble wt SV40 nanoparticles. The nanoparticle crystals formed above a critical MgCl2 concentrations. Reentrant melting and resolubilization of the virus nanoparticles took place when the MgCl2 concentrations passed a second threshold. Using synchrotron solution X-ray scattering we determined the structures and the mass fraction of the soluble and crystal phases as a function of MgCl2 and NaCl concentrations. A thermodynamic model, which balances the chemical potentials of the Mg2+ ions in each of the possible states, explains our observations. The model reveals the mechanism of both the crystallization and the reentrant melting and resolubilization and shows that counterion entropy is the main driving force for both processes.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)9814-9824
Number of pages11
JournalACS Nano
Issue number10
StatePublished - 24 Oct 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 American Chemical Society.


  • bridging interactions
  • crystallization
  • like charge attraction
  • reentrant condensation
  • resolubilization
  • small-angle X-ray scattering
  • sv40


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