Virus-like particles (VLPs) are multi-protein complex, which mimic viral particles without viral genomes. Recently various applications of VLPs for medical and pharmaceutical fields are developed. Furthermore, surface modification of VLPs is expected to extend their functional versatility. As an enzymatic strategy for the modification, microbial transglutaminase (MTG) that catalyzes the covalent bond between a glutamine residue and a ly-sine residue or a primary amine is suitable for efficient protein ligation. In the previous study, we demonstrated the efficient production of immunogenic VLPs of porcine circovirus type 2 (PCV2) using silkworm-baculovirus expression vector system (silkworm-BEVS). Herein, we established the display system of exotic molecules to VLPs by enzymatic covalent cross-linking using MTG. For the target modification, Q-tag (YPLQMRG) that is MTG reactive sequence were introduced into the N-terminus, C-terminus, or loop BC of capsid protein of PCV2 and successfully expressed as VLPs in silkworm pupae. Of these, PCV2 VLPs with Q-tag at the loop BC and C-terminus were efficiently conjugated with FITC-cadaverine and K-tagged (MRHKGS) EGFP by MTG. These results showed that flexible surface modification of VLPs mediated by MTG could be used for development of several therapeutic tools such as multivalent vaccines.
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