Manipulating Hepatitis B Virus-like Particles through Mutations

Summer 2017

Stephanie Robinson : Chemistry

Mentor: Matt Francis and Emily Hartman

Virus-like particles (VLPs) are non-infectious viral capsids that can be engineered, and serve as a drug delivery scaffolds.The MS2 bacteriophage is a VLP that has already proven to be a robust and mutable VLP by the Francis group. I am utilizing the same techniques to another VLP, the Hepatitis B virus (HBV), to identify if this is a universal quality that can be applied to immunogenic VLPs that affect humans. I aim to substitute each position of the of the HBV polypeptide with all possible combinations of the 20 natural amino acids.  Then I will clone, express, purify, and characterize the resulting mutants to discover which create viral capsids, and which can be further modified chemically. Mapping the mutations of HBV will provide a novel exploration of the VLP, and could lead to engineering a completely new class of scaffolds for drug delivery. 

I extend my thanks to the Rose Hills Foundation for this opportunity. It has enabled me to work on the project I am passionate about, and gain experience and insight for graduate and post-graduate research.