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PLoS One. 2012;7(2):e31925. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0031925. Epub 2012 Feb 21.

Engineering of papaya mosaic virus (PapMV) nanoparticles through fusion of the HA11 peptide to several putative surface-exposed sites.

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  • 1Infectious Disease Research Centre, Laval University, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.


Papaya mosaic virus has been shown to be an efficient adjuvant and vaccine platform in the design and improvement of innovative flu vaccines. So far, all fusions based on the PapMV platform have been located at the C-terminus of the PapMV coat protein. Considering that some epitopes might interfere with the self-assembly of PapMV CP when fused at the C-terminus, we evaluated other possible sites of fusion using the influenza HA11 peptide antigen. Two out of the six new fusion sites tested led to the production of recombinant proteins capable of self assembly into PapMV nanoparticles; the two functional sites are located after amino acids 12 and 187. Immunoprecipitation of each of the successful fusions demonstrated that the HA11 epitope was located at the surface of the nanoparticles. The stability and immunogenicity of the PapMV-HA11 nanoparticles were evaluated, and we could show that there is a direct correlation between the stability of the nanoparticles at 37°C (mammalian body temperature) and the ability of the nanoparticles to trigger an efficient immune response directed towards the HA11 epitope. This strong correlation between nanoparticle stability and immunogenicity in animals suggests that the stability of any nanoparticle harbouring the fusion of a new peptide should be an important criterion in the design of a new vaccine.

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