Ultrastructural studies revealing morphological differences between intact and photodynamically inactivated virions can point to inactivation mechanisms and molecular targets. Using influenza as a model system, we show that photodynamic virus inactivation is possible without total virion destruction. Indeed, irradiation with a relatively low concentration of the photosensitizer (octacationic octakis(cholinyl) zinc phthalocyanine) inactivated viral particles (the virus titer was determined in Madin Darby Canine Kidney (MDCK) cells) but did not destroy them. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) revealed that virion membranes kept structural integrity but lost their surface glycoproteins. Such structures are known as "bald" virions, which were first described as a result of protease treatment. At a higher photosensitizer concentration, the lipid membranes were also destroyed. Therefore, photodynamic inactivation of influenza virus initially results from surface protein removal, followed by complete virion destruction. This study suggests that photodynamic treatment can be used to manufacture "bald" virions for experimental purposes. Photodynamic inactivation is based on the production of reactive oxygen species which attack and destroy biomolecules. Thus, the results of this study can potentially apply to other enveloped viruses and sources of singlet oxygen.
- photodynamic inactivation
- transmission electron microscopy