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Virus-like particles (VLPs) are multiprotein structures that mimic the organization and conformation of authentic native viruses but lack the viral genome, making them non-infectious and safe to handle. The expression of viral structural proteins, such as envelope or capsid can result in their self-assembly into VLPs. VLPs are becoming an increasingly widespread tool for the development of vaccines, and are finding other important applications in biotechnology including serving as a virus-like vector for gene therapy, a display system for integral membrane proteins for antibody screening, production of immunogens, and for ligand binding assays.
Electron microscopy (EM) is a perfect visualization tool for characterizing these nanometer-sized VLPs by acquiring images of the particles in their near-native state, determining their morphological characteristics, and confirming the integrity of the particles. As an important technique in the field of structural biology, cryo-EM can be used to determine the structure of VLPs by 3D reconstruction. With the rapid advancement of both hardware and software, the resolution of cryo-EM maps is improving steadily, and near-atomic resolution had been achieved in some cases. For years, Creative Biostructure has been devoted to optimizing our EM protocol and making use of available resources to provide high-resolution imaging and three-dimensional reconstruction services for a broad spectrum of VLPs, both alone and when interacting with neutralizing antibodies. Our service also includes the preparation and purification of VLPs, from various virus families including HBV, HIV, HCV, and NoV, for the characterization of various physical properties, including shape, particle integrity and aggregation, using EM or other techniques.
Figure 1. Characterization of virus-like particles by cryo-EM
Creative Biostructure promises to work closely with our customers to provide tailored EM strategies for the VLP of your interest. The result of this service can be combined with results from other methods to provide information that is important for the process development, optimization and characterization of VLP-based vaccines.
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