Virus isoelectric point determination using single-particle chemical force microscopy

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Department of Chemical Engineering; Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics


Virus colloidal behavior is governed by the interaction of the viral surface and the surrounding environment. One method to characterize the virus surface charge is the isoelectric point (pI). Traditional determination of virus pI has focused on the bulk characterization of a viral solution. However, virus capsids are extremely heterogeneous, and a single-particle method may give more information on the range of surface charge observed across a population. One method to measure the virus pI is chemical force microscopy (CFM). CFM is a single-particle technique that measures the adhesion force of a functionalized atomic force microscope (AFM) probe and, in this case, a virus covalently bound to a surface. Non-enveloped porcine parvovirus (PPV) and enveloped bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV) were used to demonstrate the use of CFM for viral particles with different surface properties. We have validated the CFM to determine the pI of PPV to be 4.8–5.1, which has a known pI value of 5.0 in the literature, and to predict the unknown pI of BVDV to be 4.3–4.5. Bulk measurements, ζ-potential, and aqueous two-phase system (ATPS) cross-partitioning methods were also used to validate the new CFM method for the virus pI. Most methods were in good agreement. CFM can detect the surface charge of viral capsids at a single-particle level and enable the comparison of surface charge between different types of viruses.

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