Probing and pressing surfaces of hepatitis C virus-like particles.


School of Science, College of Science, Engineering and Health, RMIT University, Melbourne, VIC 3000, Australia; Department of Immunology, Monash University, Melbourne, VIC 3004, Australia; Department of Surgery Austin Health, University of Melbourne, Heidelberg, VIC 3084, Australia. Electronic address: [Email]


Hepatitis C virus-like particles (VLPs) are being developed as a quadrivalent vaccine candidate, eliciting both humoral and cellular immune responses in animal trials. Biophysical, biomechanical and biochemical properties are important for virus and VLP interactions with host cells and recognition by the immune system. Atomic force microscopy (AFM) is a powerful tool for visualizing surface topographies of cells, bionanoparticles and biomolecules, and for determining biophysical and biomechanical attributes such as size and elasticity. In this work, AFM was used to define morphological and nanomechanical properties of VLPs representing four common genotypes of hepatitis C virus. Significant differences in size of the VLPs were observed, and particles demonstrated a wide range of elasticity. Ordered packing of the core and potentially envelope glycoproteins was observed on the surfaces of the VLPs, but detailed structural characterization was hindered due to intrinsic dynamic fluctuations or AFM probe-induced damage of the VLPs. All VLPs were shown to be glycosylated in a manner similar to native viral particles. Together, the results presented in this study further our understanding of the nanostructure of hepatitis C VLPs, and should influence their uptake as viable vaccine candidates.


Atomic force microscopy,Bio-interface,Enveloped virus-like particles,Nanostructure,Vaccine development,Young’s elastic modulus,

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