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Abstract zur Publikation: Characterization of potential insertion sites in the core antigen of hepatitis B virus by the use of a short-sized model epitope

Lachmann S, Meisel H, Muselmann C, Koletzki D, Gelderblom HR, Borisova G, Krüger DH, Pumpens P, Ulrich R (1999): Characterization of potential insertion sites in the core antigen of hepatitis B virus by the use of a short-sized model epitope
Intervirology 42 (1): 51-56.

Core particles of hepatitis B virus (HBV) are able to improve the immunogenicity of foreign sequences exposed on the particle surface. The insertion site in the core antigen of HBV (HBcAg) determines the surface presentation and thus the immunogenicity of the foreign sequence. For direct comparison of the value of potential insertion sites in the core antigen, we constructed vectors allowing insertions of a model marker epitope DPAFR. This epitope was inserted at the N-terminus, the c/e1 loop, behind amino acid (aa) 144 and behind aa 183 (DPAF only). In addition, we generated a mosaic construct allowing the co-expression of HBcAg and a HBcAg/DPAFR fusion protein due to a suppressor tRNA-mediated readthrough mechanism. All 6 constructs allowed the formation of chimaeric or mosaic core-like particles. Western blot analyses and a direct ELISA demonstrated the presence of the DPAFR sequence in the chimaeric and mosaic particles. Competitive ELISA and immune electron-microscopic data suggested the c/e1 loop as the insertion site of choice for presenting foreign sequences on the surface of chimaeric HBV core particles. However, the N-terminal fusion also allowed partial surface exposure of the DPAFR motif. In contrast, in particles of constructs carrying the DPAFR insert at aa position 144 or 183, respectively, the epitope seemed not to be surface accessible.

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