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The impact of size on particle drainage dynamics and antibody response

By Simon Zinkhan, Anete Ogrina, Ina Balke, Gunta Reseviča, Andris Zeltins, Simone de Brot, Cyrill Lipp, Xinyue Chang, Lisha Zha, Monique Vogel, Martin F Bachmann, Mona O Mohsen

Posted 29 Sep 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.09.28.316612

Vaccine-induced immune response can be greatly enhanced by mimicking pathogen properties. The size and the repetitive geometric shape of virus-like particles (VLPs) influence their immunogenicity by facilitating drainage to secondary lymphoid organs and enhancing interaction with and activation of B-cells and other innate humoral immune components. VLPs derived from the plant Bromovirus genus, specifically cowpea chlorotic mottle virus (CCMV), are T=3 icosahedron particles. They can be easily expressed in an E . coli host system and package ssRNA during the expression process. Recently, we have engineered CCMV-VLPs by incorporating the universal tetanus toxoid (TT) epitope at the N-terminus. The modified CCMVTT-VLPs successfully form icosahedral particles T=3 , with a diameter of ∼30nm analogous to the parental VLPs. Interestingly, incorporating TT epitope at the C-terminus of CCMVTT-VLPs results in the formation of Rod-shaped VLPs, ∼1µm in length and ∼30nm in width. In this study, we have investigated the draining kinetics and immunogenicity of both engineered forms (termed as Round-shaped CCMVTT-VLPs and Rod-shaped CCMVTT-VLPs) as potential B cell immunogens using different in vitro and in vivo assays. Our results reveal that Round-shaped CCMVTT-VLPs are more efficient in draining to secondary lymphoid organs to charge antigen-presenting cells as well as B-cells. Furthermore, compared to Rod-shaped CCMVTT-VLPs, Round-shaped CCMVTT-VLPs led to more than 100-fold increased systemic IgG and IgA responses accompanied by prominent formation of splenic germinal centers. Round-shaped CCMVTT-VLPs could also polarize the induced immune response towards TH1. Up to our knowledge, this is the first study investigating and comparing the draining kinetics and immunogenicity of one and the same VLP monomer forming nano-sized icosahedrons or rods in the micrometer size. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest.

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