Microorganisms like the halophilic archaeon Halobacterium
sp. NRC-1 produce gas-filled buoyant organelles, which are easily purified as protein nanoparticles (called gas vesicles or GVNPs). GVNPs are non-toxic, exceptionally stable, bioengineerable, and self-adjuvanting. A large gene cluster encoding more than a dozen proteins has been implicated in their biogenesis. One protein, GvpC, found on the exterior surface of the nanoparticles, can accommodate insertions near the C-terminal region and results in GVNPs displaying the inserted sequences on the surface of the nanoparticles. Here, we review the current state of knowledge on GVNP structure and biogenesis as well as available studies on immunogenicity of pathogenic viral, bacterial, and eukaryotic proteins and peptides displayed on the nanoparticles. Recent improvements in genetic tools for bioengineering of GVNPs are discussed, along with future opportunities and challenges for development of vaccines and other applications.
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