Characterization of the structural modifications accompanying the loss of HBsAg particle immunogenicity.

Publication Type:


Vaccine, Volume 32, Issue 9, p.1049-54 (2014)


<p>The aim of this work was to further understand the relationship between the immunogenicity and the structure of Hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) particles used in Hepatitis B vaccines. To reach this aim, we compared by using a large range of techniques, the structure and properties of untreated particles with those of particles stored for 3 weeks at +60°C, a treatment which resulted in a loss of HBsAg antigenicity (toward RF-1 mAb) and immunogenicity (in mice). While untreated particles imaged by electron microscopy and atomic force microscopy appeared as isolated nanoparticles of ∼ 20nm, heated particles appeared as long chains of particle aggregates with a partial loss of their protein protrusions. Moreover, infrared spectroscopy and circular dichroism revealed that the secondary structure of the S proteins was significantly affected, with a loss of 10% of their α-helix content. Steady-state and time-resolved fluorescence data further revealed strong modifications of the most emitting Trp residues at the particle surface, confirming significant changes in the conformation of the S proteins. Moreover, modifications in the organization of both the lipid core and lipid membrane surface of the heated particles were evidenced by environment-sensitive 3-hydroxyflavone probes. Taken together, our data evidenced a clear relationship between the bona fide S protein structure and lipid organization notably at the particle surface and the particle immunogenicity.</p>