Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Darrell Peterson


The Hepatitis B core antigen (HBcAg) has been proposed to be an ideal candidate for use as an adjuvant due to its immunogenicity, and tolerance to manipulations such as insertions of epitopes or covalent attachment of ligands. HBcAg is a complex macromolecule containing protein and nucleic acid. We investigated the effect of the removal and reconstitution of nucleic acids upon its structure. It’s been shown that the RNA content of hepadnavirus core antigens can be reduced significantly, but not be completely removed. Following removal of some of the RNA, antigens retain the ability to bind added nucleic acids, in particular, "immune-enhancing" synthetic oligonucleotides without affecting the structure of antigen or disrupting its ability to spontaneously self-assemble into core particles. The removal and addition of nucleic acids was successfully applied to an altered woodchuck core antigen, with a nucleic acid-based malaria epitope addition, giving rise to a potential vaccine adjuvant platform for malaria.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

August 2010