Chimeric Virus-like Particles of Universal Antigen Epitopes of Coronavirus and Phage Qβ Coat Protein Trigger the Production of Neutralizing Antibodies

Author(s): Yukun Guo, Ruizhen Guo, Yingxian Ma, Wenru Chang, Shengli Ming, Guoyu Yang*, Yujie Guo*

Journal Name: Current Topics in Medicinal Chemistry

Volume 21 , Issue 14 , 2021

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Graphical Abstract:


Background: Virus-like Particles (VLPs) are non-genetic multimeric nanoparticles synthesized through in vitro or in vivo self-assembly of one or more viral structural proteins. Immunogenicity and safety of VLPs make them ideal candidates for vaccine development and efficient nanocarriers for foreign antigens or adjuvants to activate the immune system.

Aims: The present study aimed to design and synthesize a chimeric VLP vaccine of the phage Qbeta (Qβ) coat protein presenting the universal epitope of the coronavirus.

Methods: The RNA phage Qβ coat protein was designed and synthesized, denoted as Qbeta. The CoV epitope, a universal epitope of coronavirus, was inserted into the C-terminal of Qbeta using genetic recombination, designated as Qbeta-CoV. The N-terminal of Qbeta-CoV was successively inserted into the TEV restriction site using mCherry red fluorescent label and modified affinity purified histidine label 6xHE, which was denoted as HE-Qbeta-CoV. Isopropyl β-D-1-thiogalactopyranoside (IPTG) assessment revealed the expression of Qbeta, Qbeta-CoV, and HE-Qbeta-CoV in the BL21 (DE3) cells. The fusion protein was purified by salting out using ammonium sulfate and affinity chromatography. The morphology of particles was observed using electron microscopy. The female BALB/C mice were immunized intraperitoneally with the Qbeta-CoV and HE-Qbeta-- CoV chimeric VLPs vaccines and their sera were collected for the detection of antibody level and antibody titer using ELISA. The serum is used for the neutralization test of the three viruses of MHV, PEDV, and PDCoV.

Results: The results revealed that the fusion proteins Qbeta, Qbeta-CoV, and HE-Qbeta-CoV could all obtain successful expression. Particles with high purity were obtained after purification; the chimeric particles of Qbeta-CoV and HE-Qbeta-CoV were found to be similar to Qbeta particles in morphology and formed chimeric VLPs. In addition, two chimeric VLP vaccines induced specific antibody responses in mice and the antibodies showed certain neutralizing activity.

Conclusion: The successful construction of the chimeric VLPs of the phage Qβ coat protein presenting the universal epitope of coronavirus provides a vaccine form with potential clinical applications for the treatment of coronavirus disease.

Keywords: Coronavirus, Universal antigen epitopes, Phage Qβ coat protein, Chimeric VLPs, Neutralizing antibody, Targeted delivery, Nanoparticles.

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Article Details

Year: 2021
Published on: 18 June, 2021
Page: [1235 - 1250]
Pages: 16
DOI: 10.2174/1568026621666210618145411
Price: $65

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