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Virus-like particles (VLPs), defined as self-assembling and nonreplicating nano-scale particles, are a kind of artificial viruses without infectious genetic material. VLPs reserve the native conformation of the immunogenic proteins as well as the multiunit structure of the original virus particle. Owing to its non-infectiousness, VLPs can be ideal tools for vaccine development.
VLPs carrying desired membrane proteins are termed lipoparticles, which are widely used for the production of integral membrane proteins. The lipoparticles can be directly budded off from the cell membrane without mechanical disruption or detergents, and thus the native conformation of membrane proteins of interest is preserved. Conventional expression hosts for VLP production include bacterial, yeast, insect and mammalian cells system. However, these expression hosts require time-consuming transformation and regeneration processes, and they can even pose a risk of contamination with endotoxins or pathogens. Creative Biostructure can bypass these difficulties through the use of an innovative plant system, which can rapidly generate candidate VLPs for membrane protein production.
Figure 1. Membrane protein production based on VLPs.
Creative Biostructure can offer VLP production services with various types of plants, including Nicotiana benthamiana (tobacco), Medicago rativa (alfalfa), Arabidopsis thaliana (A. thaliana), potato and lettuce. There are two different strategies for expressing VLPs in these plant systems, including:
Note that the stable transformation system is not suitable for rapid screening of a wide range of viral vectors for VLP production owing to the lengthy procedures, in which the foreign genes become parts of the plant genome and make the transgene heritable through succeeding generations.
Agrobacterium tumefaciens-mediated transient expression allows for the screening and production of membrane proteins in a few days. Now, a large variety of viruses have been employed for the transient expression of VLPs in plants, including hepatitis B virus core-like particles (CLPs), papillomaviruses, bluetongue virus, norovirus, influenza virus and cowpea mosaic virus.
Creative Biostructure has extensive expertise in the production of numerous VLPs in plants, which enables comprehensively structural and functional studies on membrane proteins for applications such as vaccine development. Please see the list of membrane proteins provided by Creative Biostructure.
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