skip to main content


Title: Thermostabilization of viruses via complex coacervation
Widespread vaccine coverage for viral diseases could save the lives of millions of people each year. For viral vaccines to be effective, they must be transported and stored in a narrow temperature range of 2–8 °C. If temperatures are not maintained, the vaccine may lose its potency and would no longer be effective in fighting disease; this is called the cold storage problem. Finding a way to thermally stabilize a virus and end the need to transport and store vaccines at refrigeration temperatures will increase access to life-saving vaccines. We explore the use of polymer-rich complex coacervates to stabilize viruses. We have developed a method of encapsulating virus particles in liquid complex coacervates that relies on the electrostatic interaction of viruses with polypeptides. In particular, we tested the incorporation of two model viruses; a non-enveloped porcine parvovirus (PPV) and an enveloped bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV) into coacervates formed from poly(lysine) and poly(glutamate). We identified optimal conditions ( i.e. , the relative amount of the two polypeptides) for virus encapsulation, and trends in this composition matched differences in the isoelectric point of the two viruses. Furthermore, we were able to achieve a ∼10 3 –10 4 -fold concentration of virus into the coacervate phase, such that the level of virus remaining in the bulk solution approached our limit of detection. Lastly, we demonstrated a significant enhancement of the stability of non-enveloped PPV during an accelerated aging study at 60 °C over the course of a week. Our results suggest the potential for using coacervation to aid in the purification and formulation of both enveloped and non-enveloped viruses, and that coacervate-based formulations could help limit the need for cold storage throughout the transportation and storage of vaccines based on non-enveloped viruses.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
1945521 1451959
NSF-PAR ID:
10209237
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Biomaterials Science
Volume:
8
Issue:
24
ISSN:
2047-4830
Page Range / eLocation ID:
7082 to 7092
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. The greatest challenge to preventing the next influenza pandemic is the extensive diversity within the influenza virus family ( 1 ). At present, 20 lineages of influenza A and B viruses have been identified, each containing numerous strains ( 2 , 3 ). Current influenza vaccines, composed of four influenza viral antigens, provide little protection beyond the viral strains targeted by the vaccines. Universal influenza vaccines that can protect against all 20 lineages could help to prevent the next pandemic ( 4 ). Designing and manufacturing a vaccine that can provide such broad protection has been challenging, but the demonstration of the feasibility of mRNA–lipid nanoparticle COVID-19 vaccines offers a possible strategy ( 5 ). On page 899 of this issue, Arevalo et al. ( 6 ) report an influenza vaccine, using mRNA–lipid nanoparticle technology incorporating representatives of all 20 influenza virus lineages, that protected mice and ferrets from diverse influenza viruses. This provides a pathway to a universal influenza vaccine. 
    more » « less
  2. Intracellular compartmentalization plays a pivotal role in cellular function, with membrane-bound organelles and membrane-less biomolecular 'condensates' playing key roles. These condensates, formed through liquid-liquid phase separation (LLPS), enable selective compartmentalization without the barrier of a lipid bilayer, thereby facilitating rapid formation/dissolution in response to stimuli. Intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs) and/or proteins with intrinsically disordered regions (IDRs), which are often rich in charged and polar amino acid sequences, scaffold many condensates, often in conjunction with RNA. Comprehending the impact of IDP/IDR sequences on phase separation poses a challenge due to the extensive chemical diversity resulting from the myriad amino acids and post-translational modifications. To tackle this hurdle, one approach has been to investigate LLPS in simplified polypeptide systems, which offer a narrower scope within the chemical space for exploration. This strategy is supported by studies that have demonstrated how IDP function can largely be understood based on general chemical features, such as clusters or patterns of charged amino acids, rather than residue-level effects, and the ways in which these kinds of motifs give rise to an ensemble of conformations. Our lab has utilized complex coacervates assembled from oppositely-charged polypeptides as a simplified material analogue to the complexity of liquid-liquid phase separated biological condensates. Complex coacervation is an associative LLPS that occurs due to the electrostatic complexation of oppositely-charged macro-ions. This process is believed to be driven by the entropic gains resulting from the release of bound counterions and the reorganization of water upon complex formation. Apart from their direct applicability to IDPs, polypeptides also serve as excellent model polymers for investigating molecular interactions due to the wide range of available side-chain functionalities and the capacity to finely regulate their sequence, thus enabling precise control over interactions with guest molecules. Here, we discuss fundamental studies examining how charge patterning, hydrophobicity, chirality, and architecture affect the phase separation of polypeptide-based complex coacervates. These efforts have leveraged a combination of experimental and computational approaches that provide insight into the molecular level interactions. We also examine how these parameters affect the ability of complex coacervates to incorporate globular proteins and viruses. These efforts couple directly with our fundamental studies into coacervate formation, as such ‘guest’ molecules should not be considered as experiencing simple encapsulation and are instead active participants in the electrostatic assembly of coacervate materials. Interestingly, we observed trends in the incorporation of proteins and viruses into coacervates formed using different chain length polypeptides that are not well explained by simple electrostatic arguments and may be the result of more complex interactions between globular and polymeric species. Additionally, we describe experimental evidence supporting the potential for complex coacervates to improve the thermal stability of embedded biomolecules such as viral vaccines. Ultimately, peptide-based coacervates have the potential to help unravel the physics behind biological condensates while paving the way for innovative methods in compartmentalization, purification, and biomolecule stabilization. These advancements could have implications spanning from medicine to biocatalysis. 
    more » « less
  3. Vaccine manufacturing has conventionally been performed by the developed world using traditional unit operations like filtration and chromatography. There is currently a shift in the manufacturing of vaccines to the less developed world, requiring unit operations that reduce costs, increase recovery, and are amenable to continuous manufacturing. This work demonstrates that mannitol can be used as a flocculant for an enveloped and nonenveloped virus and can purify the virus from protein contaminants after microfiltration. The recovery of the virus ranges from 58 to 96% depending on virus, the filter pore size, and the starting concentration of the virus. Protein removal of 80% was achieved for the small nonenveloped virus using a 0.1 µm filter because proteins were not flocculated with the virus and flowed through the filter. It is hypothesized that mannitol dehydrates the viral surface by controlling the water structure surrounding the virus. Without the ability to become compact, as occurs with proteins, the virus aggregates in the presence of osmolytes and proteins do not. Osmolyte flocculation is a scalable process using high flux microfilters. It has been applied to both an enveloped and nonenveloped virus, making this process friendly to a variety of vaccine and gene therapy products. 
    more » « less
  4. Elkins, Christopher A. (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT Fomites can represent a reservoir for pathogens, which may be subsequently transferred from surfaces to skin. In this study, we aim to understand how different factors (including virus type, surface type, time since last hand wash, and direction of transfer) affect virus transfer rates, defined as the fraction of virus transferred, between fingerpads and fomites. To determine this, 360 transfer events were performed with 20 volunteers using Phi6 (a surrogate for enveloped viruses), MS2 (a surrogate for nonenveloped viruses), and three clean surfaces (stainless steel, painted wood, and plastic). Considering all transfer events (all surfaces and both transfer directions combined), the mean transfer rates of Phi6 and MS2 were 0.17 and 0.26, respectively. Transfer of MS2 was significantly higher than that of Phi6 ( P  < 0.05). Surface type was a significant factor that affected the transfer rate of Phi6: Phi6 is more easily transferred to and from stainless steel and plastic than to and from painted wood. Direction of transfer was a significant factor affecting MS2 transfer rates: MS2 is more easily transferred from surfaces to fingerpads than from fingerpads to surfaces. Data from these virus transfer events, and subsequent transfer rate distributions, provide information that can be used to refine quantitative microbial risk assessments. This study provides a large-scale data set of transfer events with a surrogate for enveloped viruses, which extends the reach of the study to the role of fomites in the transmission of human enveloped viruses like influenza and SARS-CoV-2. IMPORTANCE This study created a large-scale data set for the transfer of enveloped viruses between skin and surfaces. The data set produced by this study provides information on modeling the distribution of enveloped and nonenveloped virus transfer rates, which can aid in the implementation of risk assessment models in the future. Additionally, enveloped and nonenveloped viruses were applied to experimental surfaces in an equivalent matrix to avoid matrix effects, so results between different viral species can be directly compared without confounding effects of different matrices. Our results indicating how virus type, surface type, time since last hand wash, and direction of transfer affect virus transfer rates can be used in decision-making processes to lower the risk of viral infection from transmission through fomites. 
    more » « less
  5. Abstract

    Arginine synergistically inactivates enveloped viruses at a pH or temperature that does little harm to proteins, making it a desired process for therapeutic protein manufacturing. However, the mechanisms and optimal conditions for inactivation are not fully understood, and therefore, arginine viral inactivation is not used industrially. Optimal solution conditions for arginine viral inactivation found in the literature are high arginine concentrations (0.7–1 M), a time of 60 min, and a synergistic factor of high temperature (≥40°C), low pH (≤pH 4), or Tris buffer (5 mM). However, at optimal conditions full inactivation does not occur over all enveloped viruses. Enveloped viruses that are resistant to arginine often have increased protein stability or membrane stabilizing matrix proteins. Since arginine can interact with both proteins and lipids, interaction with either entity may be key to understanding the inactivation mechanism. Here, we propose three hypotheses for the mechanisms of arginine induced inactivation. Hypothesis 1 describes arginine‐induced viral inactivation through inhibition of vital protein function. Hypothesis 2 describes how arginine destabilizes the viral membrane. Hypothesis 3 describes arginine forming pores in the virus membrane, accompanied by further viral damage from the synergistic factor. Once the mechanisms of arginine viral inactivation are understood, further enhancement by the addition of functional groups, charges, or additives may allow the inactivation of all enveloped viruses in mild conditions.

     
    more » « less