Genetic engineering and characterization of Cowpea mosaic virus empty virus-like particles.
The development of methods for the production of empty Cowpea mosaic virus (CPMV) virus-like particles (VLPs) that are devoid of RNA, eVLPs, has renewed promise in CPMV capsid technologies. The recombinant nature of CPMV eVLP production means that the extent and variety of genetic modifications that may be incorporated into the particles is theoretically much greater than those that can be made to infectious CPMV virions due to restrictions on viral propagation of the latter. Free of the infectious agent, the genomic RNA, these particles are now finding potential uses in vaccine development, in vivo imaging, drug delivery, and other nanotechnology applications that make use of internal loading of the empty particles. Here we describe methods for the genetic modification and production of CPMV eVLPs and describe techniques useful for their characterization.