Physicochemical and immunological characterization of hepatitis B virus envelope particles exclusively consisting of the entire L (pre-S1 + pre-S2 + S) protein

Tadanori Yamada, Hidehiko Iwabuki, Takashi Kanno, Hiroyuki Tanaka, Tomoji Kawai, Hideki Fukuda, Akihiko Kondo, Masaharu Seno, Katsuyuki Tanizawa, Shun'ichi Kuroda

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80 Citations (Scopus)


The hepatitis B virus (HBV) envelope (env) protein is composed of three regions; the 108- or 119-residue pre-S1 region involved in the direct interaction with hepatocytes, the 55-residue pre-S2 region associated with the polymerized albumin-mediated interaction, and the major 226-residue S protein region. Thus, to improve the immunogenic potency of conventional HB vaccines, development of a new vaccine containing the entire pre-S1 region in addition to pre-S2 and S is desired. We previously reported the efficient production of the HBV env L (pre-S1 + pre-S2 + S) protein in the recombinant yeast cells [J Biol Chem 267 (1992) 1953]. In this study, the HBV env L protein produced as nano-particles in yeast has been purified and characterized. By equilibrium sedimentation, an average molecular weight of L particle was estimated to be approximately 6.4 × 106, indicating that about 110 molecules of L proteins are assembled into an L particle. By atomic force microscopy in a moist atmosphere, the L particles were observed as large spherical particles with a diameter of 50-500 nm. The L particles were stable on short-time heating at a high temperature and long-time storage at a low temperature but rather unstable on repeated freezing and thawing and treatment with dithiothreitol. When immunized in mice, L particles elicited efficiently and simultaneously the anti-S, anti-pre-S2, and anti-pre-S1 antibodies. The ED50 values in mice for the anti-S and anti-pre-S2 antibodies were similar to those elicited by the M (pre-S2 + S) particles. Furthermore, the anti-pre-S1 rabbit antibodies were found to recognize various segments of the pre-S1 region, including the pre-S1 (21-47) segment. These results show the high ability of L particles to induce all antibodies against HBV env proteins, hence promising the future application of L particles for the next generation HB vaccine.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3154-3163
Number of pages10
Issue number23-24
Publication statusPublished - Apr 30 2001


  • Atomic force microscopy
  • HBsAg L particles
  • Immune responses
  • Pre-S1 region
  • Yeast-derived hepatitis B vaccine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • veterinary(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases


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