Article révisé par les pairs
Résumé : Hepatitis B surface antigen particles are highly immunogenic and have been shown to provide a suitable support for the presentation of foreign epitopes. More information about the topology of their constitutive protein, the S (small envelope) protein, is a prerequisite to any rational attempt to replace region of this protein with foreign epitopes without modifying the assembly of the particle. The topology of the S protein within the lipid membrane was investigated here by combining extensive proteolysis of the external protein domains with proteinase K and (FTIR-ATR). The proteolytic hydrolysis of the S protein and the identification of the digestion products allowed characterization of the membrane-protected regions of the protein. FTIR spectra of the digested hepatitis B particles revealed that the peptides associated with the particles are rich in alpha-helix structure. The kinetic of 2H/H exchange provided evidence that a large fraction of the native S protein is poorly accessible to the aqueous medium.