Development of an experimental system to investigate the interaction between the Helicoverpa armigera stunt virus capsid protein and viral RNA
An in vitro RNA-protein “pull down” system was developed using the rapid protein purification technique of the IMPACTTM-CN system. The coding sequence of the N terminal domain of p71 was fused to that of a chitin binding affinity tag (intein). This fusion protein was used as protein bait for the viral RNA. It was proposed that if RNA interacted with the fusion protein, it would be pulled down by the mass of affinity matrix and be precipitated and fluoresce when analysed by agarose gel electrophoresis using ethidium bromide. Despite optimisation of the in vitro assay, results were affected by the interaction between the intein-tag and nucleic acids, the state of the expressed fusion protein (in particular self-cleavage) and the excessive fluorescence present on the gels.
The ADH2-GAPDH yeast expression system was used to investigate the in vivo assembly of p71 containing deletions of either one or both clusters within N terminal domain. It was found that all p71 mutants were expressed with the exception of the mutant containing a deletion of the second cluster. The reasons for this still require further investigation. The expressed p71 mutants were not processed into p64 and were degraded in vivo. In addition, an experimental attempt to purify assembled p71 mutant VLPs was unsuccessful. The assembly defect of p71 mutants emphasised the significance of the clusters, which are possibly required for interaction with viral RNAs for efficient VLP assembly. The results of this study suggest that an alternative tag or in vitro RNA-protein interaction assay be used. In addition, further experiments are required to investigate whether the co-expression of full length viral RNAs are required to rescue the in vivo assembly defect of p71 mutants into VLPs.
School Location:South Africa
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Keywords:biochemistry microbiology biotechnology
Date of Publication:01/01/2005