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J Virol. 1992 November; 66(11): 6527–6532.
PMCID: PMC240146

Expression, self-assembly, and antigenicity of the Norwalk virus capsid protein.


Norwalk virus capsid protein was produced by expression of the second and third open reading frames of the Norwalk virus genome, using a cell-free translation system and baculovirus recombinants. Analysis of the expressed products showed that the second open reading frame encodes a protein with an apparent molecular weight of 58,000 (58K protein) and that this protein self-assembles to form empty viruslike particles similar to native capsids in size and appearance. The antigenicity of these particles was demonstrated by immunoprecipitation and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays of paired serum samples from volunteers who developed illness following Norwalk virus challenge. These particles also induced high levels of Norwalk virus-specific serum antibody in laboratory animals following parenteral inoculation. A minor 34K protein was also found in infected insect cells. Amino acid sequence analysis of the N terminus of the 34K protein indicated that the 34K protein was a cleavage product of the 58K protein. The availability of large amounts of recombinant Norwalk virus particles will allow the development of rapid, sensitive, and reliable tests for the diagnosis of Norwalk virus infection as well as the implementation of structural studies.

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