Assembly of tomato blistering mosaic virus-like particles using a baculovirus expression vector system
The expression of several structural proteins from a wide variety of viruses in heterologous cell culture systems results in the formation of virus-like particles (VLPs). These VLPs structurally resemble the wild-type virus particles and have been used to study viral assembly process and as antigens for diagnosis and/or vaccine development. Tomato blistering mosaic virus (ToBMV) is a tymovirus that has a 6.3-kb positive-sense ssRNA genome. We have employed the baculovirus expression vector system (BEVS) for the production of tymovirus-like particles (tVLPs) in insect cells. Two recombinant baculoviruses containing the ToBMV wild-type coat protein (CP) gene or a modified short amino-terminal deletion (Δ2-24CP) variant were constructed and used to infect insect cells. Both recombinant viruses were able to express ToBMV CP and Δ2-24CP from infected insect cells that self-assembled into tVLPs. Therefore, the N-terminal residues (2-24) of the native ToBMV CP were shown not to be essential for self-assembly of tVLPs. We also constructed a third recombinant baculovirus containing a small sequence coding for the major epitope of the chikungunya virus (CHIKV) envelope protein 2 (E2) replacing the native CP N-terminal 2-24 amino acids. This recombinant virus also produced tVLPs. In summary, ToBMV VLPs can be produced in a baculovirus/insect cell heterologous expression system, and the N-terminal residues 2-24 of the CP are not essential for this assembly, allowing its potential use as a protein carrier that facilitates antigen purification and might be used for diagnosis.
This work was supported by Fundação de Apoio à Pesquisa do Distrito Federal (FAPDF, Grant number 193.001532/2016). Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (Grant number 428799/2018-3). Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (Grant number CAPES/PROEX 23038.005848/2018-31).
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Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
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