An antigen-delivery system based on hybrid virus-like particles (VLPs) formed by the self-assembly of the capsid VP2 protein of canine parvovirus (CPV) and expressing foreign peptides was investigated. In this report, we have studied the effects of inserting the poliovirus C3:B epitope in the four loops and the C terminus of the CPV VP2 on the particle structure and immunogenicity. Epitope insertions in the four loops allowed the recovery of capsids in all of the mutants. However, only insertions of the C3:B epitope in VP2 residue 225 of the loop 2 were able to elicit a significant anti-peptide antibody response, but not poliovirus-neutralizing antibodies, probably because residue 225 is located in an small depression of the surface. To fine modulate the insertion site in loop 2, a cassette-mutagenesis was carried out to insert the epitope in adjacent positions 226, 227, and 228. The epitope C3:B inserted into these positions was well recognized by the specific monoclonal antibody C3 by immunoelectron microscopy. BALB/c mice immunized with these chimeric C3:B CPV:VLPs were able to elicit an strong neutralizing antibody response (>3 log(10) units) against poliovirus type 1 (Mahoney strain). Therefore, minor displacements in the insertion place cause dramatic changes in the accessibility of the epitope and the induction of antibody responses.
|Publication status||Published - 1999|