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Open Access Research article

Recombinant gas vesicles from Halobacterium sp. displaying SIV peptides demonstrate biotechnology potential as a pathogen peptide delivery vehicle

Marinko Sremac1 and Elizabeth S Stuart2*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Plant, Soil and Insect Sciences, University of Massachusetts, MA 01003, USA

2 Department of Microbiology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA 01003, USA

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BMC Biotechnology 2008, 8:9  doi:10.1186/1472-6750-8-9

Published: 31 January 2008



Previous studies indicated that recombinant gas vesicles (r-GV) from a mutant strain of Halobacterium sp. NRC-1 could express a cassette containing test sequences of SIVmac gag derived DNA, and function as an antigen display/delivery system. Tests using mice indicated that the humoral immune response to the gag encoded sequences evoked immunologic memory in the absence of an exogenous adjuvant.


The goal of this research was to extend this demonstration to diverse gene sequences by testing recombinant gas vesicles displaying peptides encoded by different SIV genes (SIVtat, rev or nef). Verification that different peptides can be successfully incorporated into the GvpC surface protein of gas vesicle would support a more general biotechnology application of this potential display/delivery system. Selected SIVsm-GvpC fusion peptides were generated by creating and expressing fusion genes, then assessing the resulting recombinant gas vesicles for SIV peptide specific antigenic and immunogenic capabilities. Results from these analyses support three conclusions: (i) Different recombinant gvpC-SIV genes will support the biosynthesis of chimeric, GvpC fusion proteins which are incorporated into the gas vesicles and generate functional organelles. (ii) Monkey antibody elicited by in vivo infection with SHIV recognizes these expressed SIV sequences in the fusion proteins encoded by the gvpC-SIV fusion genes as SIV peptides. (iii) Test of antiserum elicited by immunizing mice with recombinant gas vesicles demonstrated notable and long term antibody titers. The observed level of humoral responses, and the maintenance of elevated responses to, Tat, Rev and Nef1 encoded peptides carried by the respective r-GV, are consistent with the suggestion that in vivo there may be a natural and slow release of epitope over time.


The findings therefore suggest that in addition to providing information about these specific inserts, r-GV displaying peptide inserts from other relevant pathogens could have significant biotechnological potential for display and delivery, or serve as a cost effective initial screen of pathogen derived peptides naturally expressed during infections in vivo.