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J Med Virol. 2004 Dec;74(4):641-9.

E. coli-expressed recombinant norovirus capsid proteins maintain authentic antigenicity and receptor binding capability.

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Division of Infectious Diseases, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio 45229-3039, USA.


The baculovirus expression system has been widely used to produce the capsid proteins of Norovirus (NV) and the proteins form virus-like particles (VLPs) that are useful in many studies, such as immunology, diagnosis, and host-receptor interaction. We report here the application of the E. coli expression system in the production of recombinant NV capsid proteins. In a direct comparison of a previous well-characterized NV strain (VA387), we have demonstrated that the E. coli-expressed capsid proteins maintain the same antigenicity and receptor binding specificity as that of the baculovirus-expressed capsid, although the E. coli-expressed VA387 proteins did not form VLPs. Using the E. coli-expression system, we characterized the receptor-binding patterns of three additional NV strains (OIF1998, Parris Island and VA115), in which OIF1998 binds to HBGA of nonsecretors but did not bind or binds weakly to the HBGA of secretors, as seen in strain VA207. Parris Island binds to HBGA of types A and B but not type O secretors and nonsecretors. VA115 did not show specific binding to any A, B, O secretor nor nonsecretor, which is also observed when the capsid protein of this strain was expressed in baculovirus. Our data indicate that VLP formation is not required for receptor binding, and that the bacteria expression system offers a simple alternative for large production of NV capsid protein for various research purposes, particularly for strains generating low yields in the insect cells.

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