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Department of Biological and Medical Sciences
P10 is a small, abundant baculovirus protein that accumulates to high levels in the very late stages of the infection cycle. It is associated with a number of intracellular structures and implicated in diverse processes from occlusion body maturation to nuclear stability and lysis. However, studies have also shown that it is non-essential for virus replication, at least in cell culture. Here, we describe the use of serial block-face scanning electron microscopy to achieve high-resolution 3D characterisation of P10 structures within Trichoplusia ni TN-368 cells infected with Autographa californica multiple nucleopolyhedrovirus. This has enabled unparalleled visualisation of P10 and determined the independent formation of dynamic perinuclear and nuclear vermiform fibrous structures. Our 3D data confirm the sequence of ultrastructural changes that create a perinuclear cage from thin angular fibrils within the cytoplasm. Over the course of infection in cultured cells, the cage remodels to form a large polarised P10 mass and we suggest that these changes are critical for nuclear lysis to release occlusion bodies. In contrast, nuclear P10 forms a discrete vermiform structure that was observed in close spatial association with both electron dense spacers and occlusion bodies; supporting a previously suggested role for P10 and electron dense spacers in the maturation of occlusion bodies. We also demonstrate that P10 hyper-expression is critical for function. Decreasing levels of p10 expression, achieved by manipulation of promoter length, correlated with reduced P10 production, a lack of formation of P10 structures and a concomitant decrease in nuclear lysis.
Pancreatic islet transplantation is a promising treatment for type 1 diabetes mellitus offering improved glycaemic control by restoring insulin production. Improved human pancreatic islet isolation has led to higher islet transplantation success. However, as many as 50% of islets are lost after transplantation due to immune responses and cellular injury. Gene therapy presents a novel strategy to protect pancreatic islets for improved survival post-transplantation. To date, most of the vectors used in clinical trials and gene therapy studies have been derived from mammalian viruses such as adeno-associated or retrovirus. However, baculovirus BacMam vectors provide an attractive and safe alternative. Here a novel BacMam was constructed containing a frameshift mutation within fp25, which results in virus stocks with higher infectious titres. This improved in vitro transduction when compared to control BacMams. Additionally, incorporating a truncated vesicular stomatitis virus G protein increased transduction efficacy and production of EGFP and BCL2 in human kidney (HK-2) and pancreatic islet β cells (EndoC βH3). Lastly, we have shown that our optimized BacMam vector can deliver and express egfp in intact pancreatic islet cells from human cadaveric donors. These results confirm that BacMam vectors are a viable choice for providing delivery of transgenes to pancreatic islet cells.
Historically, it has been proved difficult to adapt the traditional baculovirus expression systems to an automated platform because of the complexity of the processes involved. One of the major bottlenecks is the selection of recombinant from parental viruses. We have developed a bacmid vector (flashBAC (TM)) that does not require any form of selection pressure to separate recombinant virus from nonrecombinant parental virus. The method relies on homologous recombination in insect cells between a transfer plasmid containing the gene of interest and a replication-deficient bacmid. The gene of interest replaces the bacterial replicon at the polyhedrin locus, simultaneously restoring a virus gene essential for replication, and as only recombinant virus can replicate, no further separation techniques are required. This chapter describes methods for producing and expression testing multiple recombinant baculoviruses on automated platforms using the flashBAC system.
+GP64 is the major envelope glycoprotein associated with the budded virus (BV) of Autographa californica nucleopolyhedrovirus (AcMNPV) and is essential for attachment and budding of BV particles. Confocal microscopy and flotation assays established the presence of lipid raft domains within the plasma membranes of AcMNPV-infected Sf9 cells and suggested the association of GP64 with lipid rafts during infection. GP64 and filamentous actin (F-actin) were found to co-localise at the cell cortex at 24 and 48 hpi and an additional restructuring of F-actin during infection was visualised, resulting in a strongly polarised distribution of both F-actin and GP64 at the cell cortex. Depletion of F-actin, achieved by treatment of Sf9 cells with latrunculin B (LB), resulted in the redistribution of GP64 with significant cytoplasmic aggregation and reduced presence at the plasma membrane. Treatment with LB also resulted in reduced production of BV in Sf9 cells. Analysis of virus gene transcription confirmed this reduction was not due to decreased trafficking of nucleocapsids to the nucleus or to decreased production of infectious progeny nucleocapsids. Reduced BV production due to a lack of GP64 at the plasma membrane of AcMNPV-infected Sf9 cells treated with LB, suggests a key role for F-actin in the egress of BV.
The baculovirus expression system is one of the most popular methods used for the production of recombinant proteins but has several complex steps which have proved inherently difficult to adapt to a multi-parallel process. We have developed a bacmid vector that does not require any form of selection pressure to separate recombinant virus from non-recombinant parental virus. The method relies on homologous recombination in insect cells between a transfer vector containing a gene to be expressed and a replication-deficient bacmid. The target gene replaces a bacterial replicon at the polyhedrin loci, simultaneously restoring a virus gene essential for replication. Therefore, only recombinant virus can replicate facilitating the rapid production of multiple recombinant viruses on automated platforms in a one-step procedure. Using this vector allowed us to automate the generation of multiple recombinant viruses with a robotic liquid handler and then rapidly screen infected insect cell supernatant for the presence of secreted proteins.
The baculovirus expression vector system continues to develop, over 35 years since it was first used to make recombinant proteins. Early systems for recombinant virus selection were laborious but better methods were rapidly developed that enabled non-virologists to use baculovirus vectors successfully in a wide range of applications. These include multiple gene expression for complex molecules, production of adeno-associated virus-like particles for gene therapy, the use of baculovirus budded virus for same purpose, numerous potential human and animal vaccines and other therapeutic proteins. A number of products for human and veterinary use are now on the market, which attests to the utility of the systems. Despite these successes, baculovirus vectors remain in a relatively primitive state of development. Many proteins, particularly membrane-bound or secreted products remain difficult to produce. Studies in various research groups are identifying potential areas of improvement, which if they could be combined into an ideal vector might offer considerable advances to the system. This chapter will review some of the most recent reports and highlight those that might have generic application for recombinant protein synthesis in insect cells. We also summarize parallel developments in host cells used for baculovirus expression and how culture conditions can also influence protein production.
This chapter reviews recent progress to improve our understanding of baculovirus biology and replication at the cellular and whole insect levels, as well as providing an update on the exploitation of these viruses as expression and gene delivery vectors in both insect and mammalian cells. It does not discuss the ecology of baculoviruses, which is reviewed in Chapter 18, nor the use of these viruses as biocontrol agents.