Transient Bluetongue virus serotype 8 capsid protein expression in Nicotiana benthamiana.
ABSTRACT: Bluetongue virus (BTV) causes severe disease in domestic and wild ruminants, and has recently caused several outbreaks in Europe. Current vaccines include live-attenuated and inactivated viruses; while these are effective, there is risk of reversion to virulence by mutation or reassortment with wild type viruses. Subunit or virus-like particle (VLP) vaccines are safer options: VLP vaccines produced in insect cells by expression of the four BTV capsid proteins are protective against challenge; however, this is a costly production method. We investigated production of BTV VLPs in plants via Agrobacterium-mediated transient expression, an inexpensive production system very well suited to developing country use. Leaves infiltrated with recombinant pEAQ-HT vectors separately encoding the four BTV-8 capsid proteins produced more proteins than recombinant pTRA vectors. Plant expression using the pEAQ-HT vector resulted in both BTV-8 core-like particles (CLPs) and VLPs; differentially controlling the concentration of infiltrated bacteria significantly influenced yield of the VLPs. In situ localisation of assembled particles was investigated by using transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and it was shown that a mixed population of core-like particles (CLPs, consisting of VP3 and VP7) and VLPs were present as paracrystalline arrays in the cytoplasm of plant cells co-expressing all four capsid proteins.
Project description:The core antigen of hepatitis B virus (HBcAg) is capable of self-assembly into virus-like particles (VLPs) when expressed in a number of heterologous systems. Such VLPs are potential carriers of foreign antigenic sequences for vaccine design. In this study, we evaluated the production of chimeric HBcAg VLPs presenting a foreign epitope on their surface, the 551-607 amino acids (aa) immunological epitope of the ORF2 capsid protein of hepatitis E virus. A chimeric construct was made by the insertion of 56 aa into the immunodominant loop of the HBcAg. The sequences encoding the chimera were inserted into the pEAQ-<i>HT</i> vector and infiltrated into <i>Nicotiana benthamiana</i> leaves. The plant-expressed chimeric HBcHEV ORF2 551-607 protein was recognized by an anti-HBcAg mAb and anti-HEV IgG positive swine serum. Electron microscopy showed that plant-produced chimeric protein spontaneously assembled into "knobbly" ~34 nm diameter VLPs. This study shows that HBcAg is a promising carrier platform for the neutralizing epitopes of hepatitis E virus (HEV) and the chimeric HBcAg/HEV VLPs could be a candidate for a bivalent vaccine.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Bluetongue virus (BTV) is an economically important, arthropod borne, emerging pathogen in Europe, causing disease mainly in sheep and cattle. Routine vaccination for bluetongue would require the ability to distinguish between vaccinated and infected individuals (DIVA). Current vaccines are effective but are not DIVA. Virus-like particles (VLPs) are highly immunogenic structural mimics of virus particles, that only contain a subset of the proteins present in a natural infection. VLPs therefore offer the potential for the development of DIVA compatible bluetongue vaccines.<h4>Methodology/principal findings</h4>Merino sheep were vaccinated with either monovalent BTV-1 VLPs or a bivalent mixture of BTV-1 VLPs and BTV-4 VLPs, and challenged with virulent BTV-1 or BTV-4. Animals were monitored for clinical signs, antibody responses, and viral RNA. 19/20 animals vaccinated with BTV-1 VLPs either alone or in combination with BTV-4 VLPs developed neutralizing antibodies to BTV-1, and group specific antibodies to BTV VP7. The one animal that showed no detectable neutralizing antibodies, or group specific antibodies, had detectable viral RNA following challenge but did not display any clinical signs on challenge with virulent BTV-1. In contrast, all control animals' demonstrated classical clinical signs for bluetongue on challenge with the same virus. Six animals were vaccinated with bivalent vaccine and challenged with virulent BTV-4, two of these animals had detectable viral levels of viral RNA, and one of these showed clinical signs consistent with BTV infection and died.<h4>Conclusions</h4>There is good evidence that BTV-1 VLPs delivered as monovalent or bivalent immunogen protect from bluetongue disease on challenge with virulent BTV-1. However, it is possible that there is some interference in protective response for BTV-4 in the bivalent BTV-1 and BTV-4 VLP vaccine. This raises the question of whether all combinations of bivalent BTV vaccines are possible, or if immunodominance of particular serotypes could interfere with vaccine efficacy.
Project description:Bioengineering of viruses and virus-like particles (VLPs) is a well-established approach in the development of new and improved vaccines against viral and bacterial pathogens. We report here that the capsid of a major avian pathogen, infectious bursal disease virus (IBDV), can accommodate heterologous proteins to induce protective immunity. The structural units of the ~70-nm-diameter T=13 IBDV capsid are trimers of VP2, which is made as a precursor (pVP2). The pVP2 C-terminal domain has an amphipathic ? helix that controls VP2 polymorphism. In the absence of the VP3 scaffolding protein, 466-residue pVP2 intermediates bearing this ? helix assemble into genuine VLPs only when expressed with an N-terminal His6 tag (the HT-VP2-466 protein). HT-VP2-466 capsids are optimal for protein insertion, as they are large enough (cargo space, ~78,000 nm(3)) and are assembled from a single protein. We explored HT-VP2-466-based chimeric capsids initially using enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP). The VLP assembly yield was efficient when we coexpressed EGFP-HT-VP2-466 and HT-VP2-466 from two recombinant baculoviruses. The native EGFP structure (~240 copies/virion) was successfully inserted in a functional form, as VLPs were fluorescent, and three-dimensional cryo-electron microscopy showed that the EGFP molecules incorporated at the inner capsid surface. Immunization of mice with purified EGFP-VLPs elicited anti-EGFP antibodies. We also inserted hemagglutinin (HA) and matrix (M2) protein epitopes derived from the mouse-adapted A/PR/8/34 influenza virus and engineered several HA- and M2-derived chimeric capsids. Mice immunized with VLPs containing the HA stalk, an M2 fragment, or both antigens developed full protection against viral challenge.Virus-like particles (VLPs) are multimeric protein cages that mimic the infectious virus capsid and are potential candidates as nonliving vaccines that induce long-lasting protection. Chimeric VLPs can display or include foreign antigens, which could be a conserved epitope to elicit broadly neutralizing antibodies or several variable epitopes effective against a large number of viral strains. We report the biochemical, structural, and immunological characterization of chimeric VLPs derived from infectious bursal disease virus (IBDV), an important poultry pathogen. To test the potential of IBDV VLPs as a vaccine vehicle, we used the enhanced green fluorescent protein and two fragments derived from the hemagglutinin and the M2 matrix protein of the human murine-adapted influenza virus. The IBDV capsid protein fused to influenza virus peptides formed assemblies able to protect mice against viral challenge. Our studies establish the basis for a new generation of multivalent IBDV-based vaccines.
Project description:Recent worldwide outbreaks of Zika virus (ZIKV) infection and the lack of an approved vaccine raise serious concerns regarding preparedness to combat this emerging virus. We used a virus-like particle (VLP)-based approach to develop a vaccine and a microneutralization assay for ZIKV. A synthetic capsid-premembrane-envelope (C-prM-E) gene construct of ZIKV was used to generate reporter virus particles (RVPs) that package a green fluorescent protein (GFP) reporter-expressing West Nile virus (WNV) replicon. The assay was adapted to a 96-well format, similar to the plaque reduction neutralization test (PRNT), and showed high reproducibility with specific detection of ZIKV neutralizing antibodies. Furthermore, C-prM-E and prM-E VLPs were tested as vaccine candidates in mice and compared to DNA vaccination. While the ZIKV prM-E construct alone was sufficient for generating VLPs, efficient VLP production from the C-prM-E construct could be achieved in the presence of the WNV NS2B-3 protease, which cleaves C from prM, allowing virus release. Immunization studies in mice showed that VLPs generated higher neutralizing antibody titers than those with the DNA vaccines, with C-prM-E VLPs giving slightly higher titers than those with prM-E VLPs. The superiority of C-prM-E VLPs suggests that inclusion of capsid may have benefits for ZIKV and other flaviviral VLP vaccines. To facilitate the VLP platform, we generated a stable cell line expressing high levels of ZIKV prM-E proteins that constitutively produce VLPs as well as a cell line expressing ZIKV C-prM-E proteins for RVP production. While several vaccine platforms have been proposed for ZIKV, this study describes a safe, effective, and economical VLP-based vaccine against ZIKV.IMPORTANCE To address the growing Zika virus epidemic, we undertook this study with two objectives: first, to develop a safe, effective, and economical vaccine for ZIKV, and second, to develop a rapid and versatile assay to detect the anti-ZIKV immune response. We generated a cell line stably expressing ZIKV prM-E that produces large amounts of VLPs in the supernatant and a ZIKV C-prM-E cell line that produces reporter virus particles upon transfection with a GFP replicon plasmid. The prM-E VLPs induced a strong neutralizing antibody response in mice that was better when the capsid was included. VLP-based vaccines showed significantly better neutralizing antibody responses than those with their DNA counterparts. The RVP-based microneutralization assay worked similarly to the PRNT assay, with a rapid GFP readout in a 96-well format. Our VLP-based platform provides a source for a ZIKV vaccine and diagnosis that can rapidly be adapted to current outbreaks.
Project description:Human papillomaviruses (HPVs) are the most common sexually transmitted infections worldwide. Ninety percent of infected individuals clear the infection within two years; however, in the remaining 10% of infected individuals, the infection(s) persists and ultimately leads to cancers (anogenital cancers and head and neck cancers) and genital warts. Fortunately, three prophylactic vaccines have been approved to protect against HPV infections. The most recent HPV vaccine, Gardasil-9 (a nonavalent vaccine), protects against seven HPV types associated with ~90% of cervical cancer and against two HPV types associated with ~90% genital warts with little cross-protection against non-vaccine HPV types. The current vaccines are based on virus-like particles (VLPs) derived from the major capsid protein, L1. The L1 protein is not conserved among HPV types. The minor capsid protein, L2, on the other hand, is highly conserved among HPV types and has been an alternative target antigen, for over two decades, to develop a broadly protective HPV vaccine. The L2 protein, unlike the L1, cannot form VLPs and as such, it is less immunogenic. This review summarizes current studies aimed at developing HPV L2 vaccines by multivalently displaying L2 peptides on VLPs derived from bacteriophages and eukaryotic viruses. Recent data show that a monovalent HPV L1 VLP as well as bivalent MS2 VLPs displaying HPV L2 peptides (representing amino acids 17-36 and/or consensus amino acids 69-86) elicit robust broadly protective antibodies against diverse HPV types (6/11/16/18/26/31/33/34/35/39/43/44/45/51/52/53/56/58/59/66/68/73) associated with cancers and genital warts. Thus, VLP-based L2 vaccines look promising and may be favorable, in the near future, over current L1-based HPV vaccines and should be explored further.
Project description:Virus-like particles (VLPs) have been extensively explored as nanoparticle vehicles for many applications in biotechnology (e.g., vaccines, drug delivery, imaging agents, biocatalysts). However, amino acid sequence plasticity relative to subunit expression and nanoparticle assembly has not been explored. Whereas the hepatitis B core protein (HBc) VLP appears to be the most promising model for fundamental and applied studies; particle instability, antigen fusion limitations, and intrinsic immunogenicity have limited its development. Here, we apply Escherichia coli-based cell-free protein synthesis (CFPS) to rapidly produce and screen HBc protein variants that still self-assemble into VLPs. To improve nanoparticle stability, artificial covalent disulfide bridges were introduced throughout the VLP. Negative charges on the HBc VLP surface were then reduced to improve surface conjugation. However, removal of surface negative charges caused low subunit solubility and poor VLP assembly. Solubility and assembly as well as surface conjugation were greatly improved by transplanting a rare spike region onto the common shell structure. The newly stabilized and extensively modified HBc VLP had almost no immunogenicity in mice, demonstrating great promise for medical applications. This study introduces a general paradigm for functional improvement of complex protein assemblies such as VLPs. This is the first study, to our knowledge, to systematically explore the sequence plasticity of viral capsids as an approach to defining structure function relationships for viral capsid proteins. Our observations on the unexpected importance of the HBc spike tip charged state may also suggest new mechanistic routes toward viral therapeutics that block capsid assembly.
Project description:Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) has been increasingly associated with severe respiratory illness and neurological complications in children worldwide. However, no vaccine is currently available to prevent EV-D68 infection. In the present study, we investigated the possibility of developing a virus-like particle (VLP)-based EV-D68 vaccine. We found that co-expression of the P1 precursor and 3CD protease of EV-D68 in Pichia pastoris yeast resulted in the generation of EV-D68 VLPs, which were composed of processed VP0, VP1, and VP3 capsid proteins and were visualized as ~30 nm spherical particles. Mice immunized with these VLPs produced serum antibodies capable of specifically neutralizing EV-D68 infections in vitro. The in vivo protective efficacy of the EV-D68 VLP candidate vaccine was assessed in two challenge experiments. The first challenge experiment showed that neonatal mice born to the VLP-immunized dams were fully protected from lethal EV-D68 infection, whereas in the second experiment, passive transfer of anti-VLP sera was found to confer complete protection in the recipient mice. Collectively, these results demonstrate the proof-of-concept for VLP-based broadly effective EV-D68 vaccines.
Project description:Poliomyelitis is a highly infectious disease caused by poliovirus (PV). It can result in paralysis and may be fatal. Integrated global immunization programs using live-attenuated oral (OPV) and/or inactivated (IPV) PV vaccines have systematically reduced its spread and paved the way for eradication. Immunization will continue posteradication to ensure against reintroduction of the disease, but there are biosafety concerns for both OPV and IPV. They could be addressed by the production and use of virus-free virus-like particle (VLP) vaccines that mimic the "empty" capsids (ECs) normally produced in viral infection. Although ECs are antigenically indistinguishable from mature virus particles, they are less stable and readily convert into an alternative conformation unsuitable for vaccine purposes. Stabilized ECs, expressed recombinantly as VLPs, could be ideal candidate vaccines for a polio-free world. However, although genome-free PV ECs have been expressed as VLPs in a variety of systems, their inherent antigenic instability has proved a barrier to further development. In this study, we selected thermally stable ECs of type 1 PV (PV-1). The ECs are antigenically stable at temperatures above the conversion temperature of wild-type (wt) virions. We have identified mutations on the capsid surface and in internal networks that are responsible for EC stability. With reference to the capsid structure, we speculate on the roles of these residues in capsid stability and postulate that such stabilized VLPs could be used as novel vaccines. IMPORTANCE:Poliomyelitis is a highly infectious disease caused by PV and is on the verge of eradication. There are biosafety concerns about reintroduction of the disease from current vaccines that require live virus for production. Recombinantly expressed virus-like particles (VLPs) could address these inherent problems. However, the genome-free capsids (ECs) of wt PV are unstable and readily change antigenicity to a form not suitable as a vaccine. Here, we demonstrate that the ECs of type 1 PV can be stabilized by selecting heat-resistant viruses. Our data show that some capsid mutations stabilize the ECs and could be applied as candidates to synthesize stable VLPs as future genome-free poliovirus vaccines.
Project description:In this study, we developed Newcastle disease virus (NDV) virus-like particles (VLPs) expressing NDV fusion (F) protein along with influenza virus matrix 1 (M1) protein using the insect cell expression system. Specific-pathogen-free chickens were immunized with oil emulsion NDV VLP vaccines containing increasing dosages of VLPs (0.4, 2, 10, or 50 ?g of VLPs/0.5-ml dose). Three weeks after immunization, the immunogenicity of the NDV VLP vaccines was determined using a commercial enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) kit, and a lethal challenge using a highly virulent NDV strain was performed to evaluate the protective efficacy of the NDV VLP vaccines. NDV VLP vaccines elicited anti-NDV antibodies and provided protection against a lethal challenge in a dose-dependent manner. Although the VLP vaccines containing 0.4 and 2 ?g of VLPs failed to achieve high levels of protection, a single immunization with NDV VLP vaccine containing 10 or 50 ?g could fully protect chickens from a lethal challenge and greatly reduced challenge virus shedding. Furthermore, we could easily differentiate infected from vaccinated animals (DIVA) using the hemagglutination inhibition (HI) test. These results strongly suggest that utilization of NDV VLP vaccine in poultry species may be a promising strategy for the better control of NDV.
Project description:Influenza virus-like particles (VLPs) have been shown to induce a safe and potent immune response through both humoral and cellular responses. They represent promising novel influenza vaccines. Plant-based biotechnology allows for the large-scale production of VLPs of biopharmaceutical interest using different model organisms, including Nicotiana benthamiana plants. Through this platform, influenza VLPs bud from the plasma membrane and accumulate between the membrane and the plant cell wall. To design and optimize efficient production processes, a better understanding of the plant cell wall composition of infiltrated tobacco leaves is a major interest for the plant biotechnology industry. In this study, we have investigated the alteration of the biochemical composition of the cell walls of N. benthamiana leaves subjected to abiotic and biotic stresses induced by the Agrobacterium-mediated transient transformation and the resulting high expression levels of influenza VLPs. Results show that abiotic stress due to vacuum infiltration without Agrobacterium did not induce any detectable modification of the leaf cell wall when compared to non infiltrated leaves. In contrast, various chemical changes of the leaf cell wall were observed post-Agrobacterium infiltration. Indeed, Agrobacterium infection induced deposition of callose and lignin, modified the pectin methylesterification and increased both arabinosylation of RG-I side chains and the expression of arabinogalactan proteins. Moreover, these modifications were slightly greater in plants expressing haemagglutinin-based VLP than in plants infiltrated with the Agrobacterium strain containing only the p19 suppressor of silencing.