Chimeric polyomavirus-derived virus-like particles: the immunogenicity of an inserted peptide applied without adjuvant to mice depends on its insertion site and its flanking linker sequence


  • R. Lawatscheck
  • E. Aleksaite
  • J.A. Schenk
  • B. Micheel
  • B. Jandrig
  • G. Holland
  • K. Sasnauskas
  • A. Gedvilaite
  • R.G. Ulrich


  • Viral Immunology


  • Viral Immunol 20 (3): 453-460


  • We inserted the sequence of the carcinoembryonic antigen-derived T cell epitope CAP-1-6D (CEA) into different positions of the hamster polyomavirus major capsid protein VP1. Independently from additional flanking linkers, yeast-expressed VP1 proteins harboring the CEA insertion between VP1 amino acid residues 80 and 89 (site 1) or 288 and 295 (site 4) or simultaneously at both positions assembled to chimeric virus-like particles (VLPs). BALB/c mice immunized with adjuvant-free VLPs developed VP1- and epitope-specific antibodies. The level of the CEA-specific antibody response was determined by the insertion site, the number of inserts, and the flanking linker. The strongest CEA-specific antibody response was observed in mice immunized with VP1 proteins harboring the CEA insert at site 1. Moreover, the CEA-specific antibodies in these mice were still detectable 6 mo after the final booster immunization. Our results indicate that hamster polyomavirus-derived VLPs represent a highly immunogenic carrier for foreign insertions that might be useful for clinical and therapeutic applications.