Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, Vol.104, No.4, 1569-1582, 2020
Integrating nanoparticle quantification and statistical design of experiments for efficient HIV-1 virus-like particle production in High Five cells
The nature of enveloped virus-like particles (VLPs) has triggered high interest in their application to different research fields, including vaccine development. The baculovirus expression vector system (BEVS) has been used as an efficient platform for obtaining large amounts of these complex nanoparticles. To date, most of the studies dealing with VLP production by recombinant baculovirus infection utilize indirect detection or quantification techniques that hinder the appropriate characterization of the process and product. Here, we propose the application of cutting-edge quantification methodologies in combination with advanced statistical designs to exploit the full potential of the High Five/BEVS as a platform to produce HIV-1 Gag VLPs. The synergies between CCI, MOI, and TOH were studied using a response surface methodology approach on four different response functions: baculovirus infection, VLP production, VLP assembly, and VLP productivity. TOH and MOI proved to be the major influencing factors in contrast with previous reported data. Interestingly, a remarkable competition between Gag VLP production and non-assembled Gag was detected. Also, the use of nanoparticle tracking analysis and flow virometry revealed the existence of remarkable quantities of extracellular vesicles. The different responses of the study were combined to determine two global optimum conditions, one aiming to maximize the VLP titer (quantity) and the second aiming to find a compromise between VLP yield and the ratio of assembled VLPs (quality). This study provides a valuable approach to optimize VLP production and demonstrates that the High Five/BEVS can support mass production of Gag VLPs and potentially other complex nanoparticles.