Inherent in the study of viruses is the risk of pathogenic exposure, which necessitates appropriate levels of biosafety containment. Unfortunately, this also limits the availability of useful research instruments that are located at facilities not equipped to handle infectious pathogens. Abrogation of viral infectivity can be accomplished without severely disrupting the physical structure of the virus particle. Virus samples that are verifiably intact but not infectious may be enabled for study at research facilities where they would otherwise not be allowed. Inactivated viruses are also used in the development of vaccines, where immunogenicity is sought in the absence of active infection. We demonstrate the inactivation of Sindbis alphavirus particles in solution, as well as in crystallized form. Inactivation was accomplished by two different approaches: crosslinking of proteins by glutaraldehyde treatment, and crosslinking of nucleic acids by UV irradiation. Biophysical characterization methods, including dynamic light scattering and transmission electron microscopy, were used to demonstrate that the glutaraldehyde and UV inactivated Sindbis virus particles remain intact structurally. SDS-PAGE was also used to show evidence of the protein crosslinking that was expected with glutaraldehyde treatment, but also observed with UV irradiation.
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