OPEN Journal of virology | 9 Dec 2016
OO Adeyemi, C Nicol, NJ Stonehouse and DJ Rowlands
Poliomyelitis is a highly infectious disease caused by poliovirus (PV). It can result in paralysis and may be fatal. Integrated global immunisation programmes using live-attenuated oral (OPV) and/or inactivated PV vaccines (IPV) have systematically reduced its spread and paved the way for eradication. Immunisation will continue post-eradication to ensure against reintroduction of the disease, but there are biosafety concerns for both OPV and IPV. These could be addressed by the production and use of virus-free virus-like particle (VLP) vaccines which mimic the ‘empty’ capsids (ECs) normally produced in viral infection. Although ECs are antigenically indistinguishable from mature virus particles, they are less stable and readily convert to an alternative conformation unsuitable for vaccine purposes. Stabilised ECs, expressed recombinantly as VLPs, could be ideal candidate vaccines for a polio-free world. However, although genome-free PV ECs have been expressed as VLPs in a variety of systems, their inherent antigenic instability has proved a barrier to further development. In this study, we have selected thermally-stable ECs of type-1 PV (PV-1). The ECs are antigenically stable at temperatures above the conversion temperature of wild type (wt) virion. We have identified mutations on the capsid surface and internal networks that are responsible for the EC stability. With reference to the capsid structure, we speculate on the roles of these residues in capsid stability and postulate that such stabilised VLPs could be used as novel vaccines.
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