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Purification of HIV-1 gag virus-like particles and separation of other extracellular particles

P. Stepperta, D. Burgstallera, M. Klausbergera, E. Bergerb, P.P. Aguilara, T.A. Schneiderb, P. Krambergerc, A. Toverd,  K. Nöbauere, E. Razzazi-Fazelie, A. Jungbauer, Journal of Chromatography A, 1455 (2016)

Enveloped virus-like particles (VLPs) are increasingly used as vaccines and immunotherapeutics. Frequently, very time consuming density gradient centrifugation techniques are used for purification ofVLPs. However, the progress towards optimized large-scale VLP production increased the demand for fast, cost efficient and scaleable purification processes. We developed a chromatographic procedure for purification of HIV-1 gag VLPs produced in CHOcells. The clarified and filtered cell culture supernatant was directly processed on an anion-exchange monolith. The majority of host cell impurities passed throughthe column, whereas the VLPs were eluted by a linear or step salt gradient; the major fraction of DNA waseluted prior to VLPs and particles in the range of 100–200nm in diameter could be separated into two fractions. The earlier eluted fraction was enriched with extracellular particles associated to exosomes or microvesicles, whereas the late eluting fractions contained the majority of most pure HIV-1 gag VLPs. DNA content in the exosome-containing fraction could not be reduced by Benzonase treatment which indicated that the DNA was encapsulated. Many exosome markers were identified by proteomic analysisin this fraction. We present a laboratory method that could serve as a basis for rapid downstream processing of enveloped VLPs. Up to 2000 doses, each containing 1×109 particles, could be processed witha 1mL monolith within 47 min. The method compared to density gradient centrifugation has a 220-fold improvement in productivity.

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