Erythro-VLPs: Anchoring SARS-CoV-2 spike proteins in erythrocyte liposomes Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Novel therapeutic strategies are needed to control the SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2) pandemic. Here, we present a protocol to anchor the SARS-CoV-2 spike (S-)protein in the cytoplasmic membranes of erythrocyte liposomes. A surfactant was used to stabilize the S-protein’s structure in the aqueous environment before insertion and to facilitate reconstitution of the S-proteins in the erythrocyte membranes. The insertion process was studied using coarse grained Molecular Dynamics (MD) simulations. Liposome formation and S-protein anchoring was studied by dynamic light scattering (DLS), ELV-protein co-sedimentation assays, fluorescent microcopy and cryo-TEM. The Erythro-VLPs (erythrocyte based virus like particles) have a well defined size of ∼200 nm and an average protein density on the outer membrane of up to ∼300 proteins/μm2. The correct insertion and functional conformation of the S-proteins was verified by dose-dependent binding to ACE-2 (angiotensin converting enzyme 2) in biolayer interferometry (BLI) assays. Seroconversion was observed in a pilot mouse trial after 14 days when administered intravenously, based on enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA). This red blood cell based platform can open novel possibilities for therapeutics for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) including variants, and other viruses in the future.

publication date

  • January 2022