Biophysical characterization of P22 bacteriophage and adenoassociated viruses

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Letters & Science


The dsDNA tailed bacteriophages comprise the largest evolving life form in the biosphere. They are not only the most abundant organism on Earth, but also plausibly the most ancient. The ancient origin of phage suggests that they have had the ample opportunity to undergo the evolutionary changes necessary to perform intricate coordinated biological functions. Therefore, characterizing a tailed bacteriophage will help not only to understand biology, but also help us to establish a relationship between structure and function. Viruses display a dynamic equilibrium between structural conformations, stability, flexibility and rigidity which is essential for the perpetuation of life cycle. Understanding this complex biophysical relationship is a daunting task and requires a combination of multidimensional approaches. P22 is a tailed bacteriophage and displays a series of structural transitions during maturation. To understand the important biophysical changes in the P22 at different stages of maturation, we have introduced a suite of orthogonal techniques to address the distinct properties of intermediates. These include Differential Scanning Fluorimetry which probes the thermal stability of P22 capsids, Hydrogen-Deuterium Mass Spectrometry, which probes the conformational flexibility and Atomic Force Microscopy and Quartz Crystal Microbalance with dissipation, which probe the biomechanical transformation in the capsids. P22 investigation using these techniques reveals the large scale structural arrangements along with the expansion. Global rearrangement results in an increase in stability, rigidity and reduced dynamics. The sum results of these studies indicate that expansion is accompanied by large scale inter-subunit rearrangements which lead to the enhanced hydrophobic core at different quasi-equivalent axes. We have also studied Adeno-associated viruses, which is used as a gene delivery vehicle for the treatment of genetic disorders. AAVs lipase contains a lipase domain and its activation is important for the successful infection. Activation mechanism of lipase domain is not thoroughly understood. To understand the mechanism, we have developed a Liquid Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry assay sensitive enough to measure lipase products. This assay confirms that prolonged incubation of AAVs with liposome is able to activate the lipase domain without the involvement of receptors and co-receptors.




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