In vitro reassembled plant virus-like particles for loading of polyacids

Y. Ren, S-M. Wong, Lee Yong Lim

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    64 Citations (Scopus)


    The coat protein (CP) of certain plant viruses may reassemble into empty virus-like particles (VLPs) and these protein cages may serve as potential drug delivery platforms. In this paper, the production of novel VLPs from the Hibiscus chlorotic ringspot virus (HCRSV) is reported and the capacity to load foreign materials was characterized. VLPs were readily produced by destabilizing the HCRSV in 8 M urea or Tris buffer pH 8, in the absence of calcium ions, followed by removal of viral RNA by ultrahigh-speed centrifugation and the reassembly of the CP in sodium acetate buffer pH 5. The loading of foreign materials into the VLPs was dependent on electrostatic interactions. Anionic polyacids, such as polystyrenesulfonic acid and polyacrylic acid, were successfully loaded but neutrally charged dextran molecules were not. The molecular-mass threshold for the polyacid cargo was about 13 kDa, due to the poor retention of smaller molecules, which readily diffused through the holes between the S domains present on the surface of the VLPs. These holes precluded the entry of large molecules, but allowed smaller molecules to enter or exit. The polyacid-loaded VLPs had comparable size, morphology and surface-charge density to the native HCRSV, and the amount of polyacids loaded was comparable to the weight of the native genomic materials. The conditions applied to disassembly-reassembly of the virions did not change the structural conformation of the CP. HCRSV-derived VLPs may provide a promising nano-sized protein cage for delivery of anionic drug molecules.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2749-2754
    JournalJournal of General Virology
    Issue number9
    Publication statusPublished - 2006


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