Effects of downstream processing on structural integrity and immunogenicity in the manufacture of papillomavirus type 16 L1 virus-like particles
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- Chang, D.Y., Kim, H.J. & Kim, H. Biotechnol Bioproc E (2012) 17: 755. doi:10.1007/s12257-012-0067-5
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There is increasing demand for virus-like particles (VLPs) as a platform for prophylactic vaccine production. However, little attention has been paid to how downstream processing affects the structure and immunogenicity of the VLPs. In this study, we compared three methods of purifying human papillomavirus type 16 (HPV16) VLPs, each including the same cation-exchange chromatography (CEC) step. Method T-1 uses both ammonium sulfate precipitation (ASP) and a step to remove precipitated contaminating proteins (SRPC) prior to CEC, while T-2 uses only the SRPC step prior to CEC and T-3 includes neither step. We compared the structural integrity and immunogenicity of the HPV16 VLPs resulting from these three methods. All three preparations were highly pure. However, the final yields of the VLPs obtained with T-2 were 1.5 and 2 fold higher than with T-1 and T-3, respectively. With respect to structural integrity, T-1 and T-2 HPV16 VLPs had smaller hydrodynamic diameters and higher reactivity towards monoclonal anti-HPV16 neutralizing antibodies than T-3 VLPs, indicating higher potentials of T-1 and T-2 VLPs for eliciting anti-HPV16 neutralizing antibodies. Moreover, it was confirmed that the T-1 and T-2 HPV16 VLPs elicit anti-HPV16 neutralizing antibodies more efficiently than T-3 HPV16 VLPs do in mice immunizations: the abilities for eliciting neutralizing antibodies were in the order T-2 VLP > T-1 VLP > T-3 VLP. We conclude that the process design for purifying HPV VLPs is a critical determinant of the quality of the final product.