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Recombinant Expression of Tandem-HBc Virus-Like Particles (VLPs)

Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology book series (MIMB,volume 1776)

Abstract

The hepatitis B virus (HBV) core protein (HBc) has formed the building block for virus-like particle (VLP) production for more than 30 years. The ease of production of the protein, the robust ability of the core monomers to dimerize and assemble into intact core particles, and the strong immune responses they elicit when presenting antigenic epitopes all demonstrate its promise for vaccine development (reviewed in Pumpens and Grens (Intervirology 44: 98–114, 2001)). HBc has been modified in a number of ways in attempts to expand its potential as a novel vaccine platform. The HBc protein is predominantly α-helical in structure and folds to form an L-shaped molecule. The structural subunit of the HBc particle is a dimer of monomeric HBc proteins which together form an inverted T-shaped structure. In the assembled HBc particle the four-helix bundle formed at each dimer interface appears at the surface as a prominent “spike.” The tips of the “spikes” are the preferred sites for the insertion of foreign sequences for vaccine purposes as they are the most highly exposed regions of the assembled particles. In the tandem-core modification two copies of the HBc protein are covalently linked by a flexible amino acid sequence which allows the fused dimer to fold correctly and assemble into HBc particles. The advantage of the modified structure is that the assembly of the dimeric subunits is defined and not formed by random association. This facilitates the introduction of single, larger sequences at the tip of each surface “spike,” thus overcoming the conformational clashes contingent on insertion of large structures into monomeric HBc proteins.

Differences in inserted sequences influence the assembly characteristics of the modified proteins, and it is important to optimize the design of each novel construct to maximize efficiency of assembly into regular VLPs. In addition to optimization of the construct, the expression system used can also influence the ability of recombinant structures to assemble into regular isometric particles. Here, we describe the production of recombinant tandem-core particles in bacterial, yeast and plant expression systems.

Key words

  • Hepatitis B core (HBc)
  • HBc VLPs
  • Escherichia coli expression
  • Pichia pastoris expression
  • Plant expression

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Correspondence to David J. Rowlands .

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Stephen, S.L., Beales, L., Peyret, H., Roe, A., Stonehouse, N.J., Rowlands, D.J. (2018). Recombinant Expression of Tandem-HBc Virus-Like Particles (VLPs). In: Wege, C., Lomonossoff, G. (eds) Virus-Derived Nanoparticles for Advanced Technologies. Methods in Molecular Biology, vol 1776. Humana Press, New York, NY. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4939-7808-3_7

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4939-7808-3_7

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  • Publisher Name: Humana Press, New York, NY

  • Print ISBN: 978-1-4939-7806-9

  • Online ISBN: 978-1-4939-7808-3

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