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Structural Requirements of Astrovirus Virus-Like Particles Assembled in Insect Cells

  • Santiago Caballero
  • Susana Guix
  • Enric Ribes
  • Albert Bosch
  • Rosa M. Pintó
American Society for Microbiology
Publication Date
Dec 01, 2004
  • Biology
  • Chemistry


Expression of the complete ORF2 of human astrovirus serotype 1 (HAstV-1) in the baculovirus system led to the formation of virus-like particles (VLPs) of around 38 nm. The same kind of VLPs were also obtained either with the expression of a truncated form of ORF2 lacking the first 70 amino acids (aa), or with the same truncated form in which those 70 aa were replaced by the green fluorescent protein. All three kinds of VLPs were equally recognized by an anti-HAstV-1 polyclonal antibody and by two monoclonal antibodies (MAbs; 8E7 and 5B7), indicating a nonessential role of those amino acids neither in the capsid assembly nor in the antigen structure. A second type of structure consisting of 16-nm ring-like units was observed in all of the cases, mostly after disassembling the 38-nm VLPs through the addition of EDTA. The removal of the EDTA and the addition of Mg2+ ions promoted the reassembly of the 38-nm VLPs. The nature of these 16-nm ring-like structures, capsomers or T = 1 VLPs, still remains unclear. Biochemical analysis revealed no differences between the 38-nm VLPs and the 16-nm structures, whereas antigenically, they shared the 8E7 MAb epitope but differed in the 5B7 MAb epitope, with the latter structures being more readily recognized.


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