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J Virol. 2001 Mar;75(5):2130-41.

Antigenicity and immunogenicity of novel chimeric hepatitis B surface antigen particles with exposed hepatitis C virus epitopes.

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  • 1Sir Albert Sakzewski Virus Research Centre, Royal Children's Hospital, Herston, Queensland 4029, Australia.


The small envelope protein of hepatitis B virus (HBsAg-S) can self-assemble into highly organized virus like particles (VLPs) and induce an effective immune response. In this study, a restriction enzyme site was engineered into the cDNA of HBsAg-S at a position corresponding to the exposed site within the hydrophilic a determinant region (amino acid [aa] 127-128) to create a novel HBsAg vaccine vector allowing surface orientation of the inserted sequence. We inserted sequences of various lengths from hypervariable region 1 (HVR1) of the hepatitis C virus (HCV) E2 protein containing immunodominant epitopes and demonstrated secretion of the recombinant HBsAg VLPs from transfected mammalian cells. A number of different recombinant proteins were synthesized, and HBsAg VLPs containing inserts up to 36 aa were secreted with an efficiency similar to that of wild-type HBsAg. The HVR1 region exposed on the particles retained an antigenic structure similar to that recognized immunologically during natural infection. VLPs containing epitopes from either HCV-1a or -1b strains were produced that induced strain-specific antibody responses in immunized mice. Injection of a combination of these VLPs induced antibodies against both HVR1 epitopes that resulted in higher titers than were achieved by vaccination with the individual VLPs, suggesting a synergistic effect. This may lead to the development of recombinant particles which are able to induce a broad anti-HCV immune response against the HCV quasispecies or other quasispecies-like infectious agents.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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