1887

Abstract

The retroviral Gag protein is frequently used to generate ‘virus-like particles’ (VLPs) for a variety of applications. Retroviral Gag proteins self-assemble and bud at the plasma membrane to form enveloped VLPs that resemble natural retrovirus virions, but contain no viral genome. The baculovirus expression vector system has been used to express high levels of the retroviral Gag protein to produce VLPs. However, VLP preparations produced from baculovirus-infected insect cells typically contain relatively large concentrations of baculovirus budded virus (BV) particles, which are similar in size and density to VLPs, and thus may be difficult to separate when purifying VLPs. Additionally, these enveloped VLPs may have substantial quantities of the baculovirus-encoded GP64 envelope protein in the VLP envelope. Since VLPs are frequently produced for vaccine development, the presence of the GP64 envelope protein in VLPs, and the presence of Autographa californica multicapsid nucleopolyhedrovirus BVs in VLP preparations, is undesirable. In the current studies, we developed a strategy for reducing BVs and eliminating GP64 in the production of VLPs, by expressing the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 gag gene in the absence of the baculovirus gp64 gene. Using a GP64null recombinant baculovirus, we demonstrate Gag-mediated VLP production and an absence of GP64 in VLPs, in the context of reduced BV production. Thus, this approach represents a substantially improved method for producing VLPs in insect cells.

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2018-01-04
2019-10-14
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