JOURNAL ARTICLE
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Norovirus-like VP1 particles exhibit isolate dependent stability profiles.

Noroviruses are the main cause of viral gastroenteritis with new variants emerging frequently. There are three norovirus genogroups infecting humans. These genogroups are divided based on the sequence of their major capsid protein, which is able to form virus-like particles (VLPs) when expressed recombinantly. VLPs of the prototypical GI.1 Norwalk virus are known to disassemble into specific capsid protein oligomers upon alkaline treatment. Here, native mass spectrometry and electron microscopy on variants of GI.1 and of GII.17 were performed, revealing differences in terms of stability between these groups. Beyond that, these experiments indicate differences even between variants within a genotype. The capsid stability was monitored in different ammonium acetate solutions varying both in ionic strength and pH. The investigated GI.1 West Chester isolate showed comparable disassembly profiles to the previously studied GI.1 Norwalk virus isolate. However, differences were observed with the West Chester being more sensitive to alkaline pH. In stark contrast to that, capsids of the variant belonging to the currently prevalent genogroup GII were stable in all tested conditions. Both variants formed smaller capsid particles already at neutral pH. Certain amino acid substitutions in the S domain of West Chester relative to the Norwalk virus potentially result in the formation of these T  =  1 capsids.

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