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Maturation of recombinant hepatitis B virus surface antigen particles.

Authors
  • 1
Type
Published Article
Journal
Human vaccines
Publication Date
Volume
2
Issue
4
Pages
174–180
Identifiers
PMID: 17012892
Source
Medline

Abstract

The major surface antigen of Hepatitis B virus (HBsAg) is a cysteine-rich, lipid-bound protein with 226 amino acids. Recombinant HBsAg (rHBsAg) with associated lipids can self-assemble into 22-nm immunogenic spherical particles, which are used in licensed Hepatitis B vaccines. Little is known about the structural evolvement or maturation upon assembly beyond an elevated level of disulfide formation. In this paper, we further characterized the maturation of HBsAg particles with respect to their degree of cross-linking, morphological changes, and changes in conformational flexibility. The lipid-containing rHBsAg particles undergo KSCN- and heat-induced maturation by formation of additional intra- and inter-molecular disulfide bonds. Direct measurements with atomic force microscopy (AFM) revealed morphological changes upon maturation through KSCN-induced and heat-/storage-incurred oxidative refolding. Particle uniformity and regularity was greatly improved, and protrusions formed by the protein subunits were more prominent on the surface of the mature particles. Decreased conformational flexibility in the mature rHBsAg particles was demonstrated by millisecond-scale unfolding kinetics in the presence of an environment-sensitive conformation probe. Both the accessible hydrophobic cavities under native conditions and the changeable hydrophobic cavities upon denaturant-induced unfolding showed substantial decrease upon maturation of the rHBsAg particles. These changes in the structural properties may be critical for the antigenicity and immuno-genicity of this widely-used vaccine component.

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