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Bluetongue Virus (BTV)

Bluetongue virus is a non-enveloped virus of size 70 nm, its structure consisting of three concentric shells, each comprised of one or more different proteins in different stoichiometric ratios: 120 copies of VP3 form a subcore upon which 780 copies of VP7 form a layer giving the core-like particles a textured appearance when imaged by TEM. The immunogenicity determinants of BTV form the outer layer: VP5 (360 copies) and VP2 (180 copies). Therefore, it is essential for all four proteins to assemble correctly in order for the recombinant particles to resemble BTV.


Schematic view of expression strategy using dual CPMV-HT vectors:



Assembly of Blue Tongue Virus like particles


Simulated 3D Structure of Blue Tongue Virus like particle, fully assembled



The Lomonossoff lab successfully used the CPMV-HT system to express CLPs and VLPs of BTV serotype 8, the causal agent of the wide-spread veterinary Bluetongue Disease in ruminants, which is currently targeted by vaccination programmes globally. BTV VLPs thus produced have been shown to produce protective immunity in sheep.

The figure below shows the structure of BTV as obtained using crystallography software (left) and transmission electron microscopy (right).


Reference: Thuenemann, E. C., Meyers, A. E., Verwey, J., Rybicki, E. P. and Lomonossoff, G. P. (2013). A method for rapid production of heteromultimeric protein complexes in plants: assembly of protective bluetongue virus-like particles. Plant Biotechnology Journal. In press [DOI 10.1111/pbi.12076].

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