A multisystem approach was used to assess the efficiency of several methods for inactivation of Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV) vaccine candidates. A combination of diverse assays (plaque, in vitro cytopathology and mouse neurovirulence) was used to verify virus inactivation, along with the use of a specific ELISA to measure retention of VEEV envelope glycoprotein epitopes in the development of several inactivated VEEV candidate vaccines derived from an attenuated strain of VEEV (V3526). Incubation of V3526 aliquots at temperatures in excess of 64°C for periods >30 minutes inactivated the virus, but substantially reduced VEEV specific monoclonal antibody binding of the inactivated material. In contrast, V3526 treated either with formalin at concentrations of 0.1% or 0.5% v/v for 4 or 24 hours, or irradiated with 50 kilogray gamma radiation rendered the virus non-infectious while retaining significant levels of monoclonal antibody binding. Loss of infectivity of both the formalin inactivated (fV3526) and gamma irradiated (gV3526) preparations was confirmed via five successive blind passages on BHK-21 cells. Similarly, loss of neurovirulence for fV3526 and gV3526 was demonstrated via intracerebral inoculation of suckling BALB/c mice. Excellent protection against subcutaneous challenge with VEEV IA/B Trinidad donkey strain was demonstrated using a two dose immunization regimen with either fV3526 or gV3526. The combination of in vitro and in vivo assays provides a practical approach to optimize manufacturing process parameters for development of other inactivated viral vaccines.
Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV); Formalin inactivated vaccines; Gamma irradiated vaccines; Neurovirulence; Alphavirus
The greatest risk from live-attenuated vaccines is reversion to virulence. Particular concerns arise for RNA viruses, which exhibit high mutation frequencies. We examined the stability of 3 attenuation strategies for the alphavirus, Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV): a traditional, point mutation-dependent attenuation approach exemplified by TC-83; a rationally designed, targeted-mutation approach represented by V3526; and a chimeric vaccine, SIN/TC/ZPC. Our findings suggest that the chimeric strain combines the initial attenuation of TC-83 with the greater phenotypic stability of V3526, highlighting the importance of the both initial attenuation and stability for live-attenuated vaccines.
vaccine stability; RNA viruses; alphavirus; Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus
Studies were conducted in mice, hamsters, sheep, and two species of nonhuman primates which demonstrate the adjuvant activity of a new metabolizable lipid emulsion with marginally immunogenic doses of Formalin-inactivated viral vaccines. The lipid base consists of highly refined peanut oil emulsified in aqueous vaccines with glycerol and lecithin. Hamsters and mice inoculated with lipid emulsion plus western or Venezuelan equine encephalitis vaccine were significantly more resistant than vaccinated controls to lethal homologous virus challenge. Sheep given one dose of lipid emulsion plus Rift Valley fever vaccine developed significantly higher antibody titers than control sheep receiving only vaccine. Cynomolgous monkeys inoculated with lipid emulsion plus Rift Valley fever vaccine developed 16-fold greater peak primary and 20-fold greater secondary antibody titers than those of vaccine controls. Similar lipid emulsion-Rift Valley fever studies in rhesus monkeys resulted in 37- and 300-fold increases in primary and secondary titers, respectively, compared with monkeys given vaccine alone. Neither the sequence of combining antigen with lipid nor the exact ratio of aqueous phase to lipid phase affected the survival of Venezuelan equine encephalitis-vaccinated mice challenged with homologous lethal virus. This lipid formulation has several advantages over other water-in-oil adjuvants for potential use in humans. The components are metabolizable or normal host constituents, it is easily emulsified with aqueous vaccines by gentle agitation, and it is relatively nonreactogenic in recipients.
Nonhuman primates (NHP) are considered to be the most appropriate model for predicting how humans will respond to many infectious diseases. Due to ethical and monetary concerns associated with the use of NHP, rodent models that are as predictive of responses likely to be seen in human vaccine recipients are warranted. Using implanted telemetry devices, body temperature and activity were monitored in inbred and outbred mouse strains following administration of the live-attenuated vaccine for Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV), V3526. Following analysis of individual mouse data, only outbred mouse strains showed changes in diurnal temperature and activity profiles following vaccination. Similar changes were observed following VEEV challenge of vaccinated outbred mice. From these studies, we conclude, outbred mouse strains implanted with telemeters are a sensitive model for predicting responses in humans following vaccination.
vaccine; mouse; telemetry
The live-attenuated TC-83 strain is the only licensed veterinary vaccine available to protect equids against Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV) and to protect humans indirectly by preventing equine amplification. However, TC-83 is reactogenic due to its reliance on only two attenuating point mutations and has infected mosquitoes following equine vaccination. To increase its stability and safety, a recombinant TC-83 was previously engineered by placing the expression of the viral structural proteins under the control of the Internal Ribosome Entry Site (IRES) of encephalomyocarditis virus (EMCV), which drives translation inefficiently in insect cells. However, this vaccine candidate was poorly immunogenic. Here we describe a second generation of the recombinant TC-83 in which the subgenomic promoter is maintained and only the capsid protein gene is translated from the IRES. This VEEV/IRES/C vaccine candidate did not infect mosquitoes, was stable in its attenuation phenotype after serial murine passages, and was more attenuated in newborn mice but still as protective as TC-83 against VEEV challenge. Thus, by using the IRES to modulate TC-83 capsid protein expression, we generated a vaccine candidate that combines efficient immunogenicity and efficacy with lower virulence and a reduced potential for spread in nature.
Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV) is transmitted by mosquitoes and widely distributed in Central and South America, causing regular outbreaks in horses and humans. Often misdiagnosed as dengue, VEEV infection in humans can lead to lifelong neurological sequelae and is fatal in up to >80% of equine cases, representing a significant socio-economic burden and constant public health threats for developing countries of Latin America. The only available vaccine, the live-attenuated TC-83 strain, is restricted to veterinary use due to its high reactogenicity in humans and risk for reversion to virulence, which could initiate an epidemic. By using an attenuation approach that allows the modulation of the virus capsid protein expression, we generated a new version of TC-83 that is more attenuated but still induces a protective immune response in mice. Additionally, this new vaccine cannot infect mosquitoes, which prevents the risk of spreading in nature. The attenuation approach we describe can be applied to a lot of other alphaviruses to develop vaccines against diseases regularly emerging and threatening developing countries.
Six monoclonal antibodies were isolated that exhibited specificity for a furin cleavage site deletion mutant (V3526) of Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV). These antibodies comprise a single competition group and bound the E3 glycoprotein of VEEV subtype I viruses but failed to bind the E3 glycoprotein of other alphaviruses. These antibodies neutralized V3526 virus infectivity but did not neutralize the parental strain of Trinidad donkey (TrD) VEEV. However, the E3-specific antibodies did inhibit the production of virus from VEEV TrD-infected cells. In addition, passive immunization of mice demonstrated that antibody to the E3 glycoprotein provided protection against lethal VEEV TrD challenge. This is the first recognition of a protective epitope in the E3 glycoprotein. Furthermore, these results indicate that E3 plays a critical role late in the morphogenesis of progeny virus after E3 appears on the surfaces of infected cells.
Ebola virus (EBOV) causes acute hemorrhagic fever that is fatal in up to 90% of cases in both humans and nonhuman primates. No vaccines or treatments are available for human use. We evaluated the effects in nonhuman primates of vaccine strategies that had protected mice or guinea pigs from lethal EBOV infection. The following immunogens were used: RNA replicon particles derived from an attenuated strain of Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV) expressing EBOV glycoprotein and nucleoprotein; recombinant Vaccinia virus expressing EBOV glycoprotein; liposomes containing lipid A and inactivated EBOV; and a concentrated, inactivated whole-virion preparation. None of these strategies successfully protected nonhuman primates from robust challenge with EBOV. The disease observed in primates differed from that in rodents, suggesting that rodent models of EBOV may not predict the efficacy of candidate vaccines in primates and that protection of primates may require different mechanisms.
Keywords: Ebola; macaque; vaccine; Vaccinia virus; replicon
The efficacy of Formalin-inactivated Venezuelan equine encephalitis (VEE) vaccine has been reported to be low for man. Although a live VEE vaccine has been shown to be highly effective for the protection of laboratory workers, local and systemic reactions have occurred in approximately 20% of inoculated individuals. Therefore, studies were initiated in an attempt to produce an inactivated vaccine of high potency with low toxicity. Inactivated VEE vaccines were prepared by exposing virus suspensions to 8 × 106 or 10 × 106 r of gamma radiation. Irradiated VEE vaccines prepared from virus suspensions produced in Maitland-type chick embryo (MTCE) cell cultures and in monolayer cultures of human diploid strain WI-38 cells were highly immunogenic for mice and guinea pigs. Guinea pigs vaccinated with a series of three inoculations of vaccine (MTCE) survived challenge with at least 108·4 mouse intracerebral 50% lethal doses of VEE virus. Irradiated vaccines induced high levels of serum-neutralizing and hemagglutinin-inhibiting antibodies in guinea pigs and rabbits. These findings suggest that ionizing radiation may be effective in the preparation of an inactivated VEE vaccine.
Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is an emerging, mosquito-borne alphavirus that has caused major epidemics in Africa and Asia. We developed chimeric vaccine candidates using the non-structural protein genes of either Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV) attenuated vaccine strain TC-83 or a naturally attenuated strain of eastern equine encephalitis virus (EEEV) and the structural genes of CHIKV. Because the transmission of genetically modified live vaccine strains is undesirable because of the potentially unpredictable evolution of these viruses as well as the potential for reversion, we evaluated the ability of these vaccines to infect the urban CHIKV vectors, Aedes aegypti and Ae. albopictus. Both vaccine candidates exhibited significantly lower infection and dissemination rates compared with the parent alphaviruses. Intrathoracic inoculations indicated that reduced infectivity was mediated by midgut infection barriers in both species. These results indicate a low potential for transmission of these vaccine strains in the event that a vaccinee became viremic.
Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus replicon particles (VRP) without a transgene (null VRP) have been used to adjuvant effective humoral , cellular , and mucosal  immune responses in mice. To assess the adjuvant activity of null VRP in the context of a licensed inactivated influenza virus vaccine, rhesus monkeys were immunized with Fluzone® alone or Fluzone® mixed with null VRP and then challenged with a human seasonal influenza isolate, A/Memphis/7/2001 (H1N1). Compared to Fluzone® alone, Fluzone®+null VRP immunized animals had stronger influenza-specific CD4+ T cell responses (4.4 fold) with significantly higher levels of virus-specific IFN-γ (7.6 fold) and IL-2 (5.3 fold) producing CD4+ T cells. Fluzone®+null VRP immunized animals also had significantly higher plasma anti-influenza IgG (p<0.0001, 1.3 log) and IgA (p<0.05, 1.2 log) levels. In fact, the mean plasma anti-influenza IgG titers after one Fluzone®+null VRP immunization was 1.2 log greater (p<0.04) than after two immunizations with Fluzone® alone. After virus challenge, only Fluzone®+null VRP immunized monkeys had a significantly lower level of viral replication (p<0.001) relative to the unimmunized control animals. Although little anti-influenza antibody was detected in the respiratory secretions after immunization, strong anamnestic anti-influenza IgG and IgA responses were present in secretions of the Fluzone®+null VRP immunized monkeys immediately after challenge. There were significant inverse correlations between influenza RNA levels in tracheal lavages and plasma anti-influenza HI and IgG anti-influenza antibody titers prior to challenge. These results demonstrate that null VRP dramatically improve both the immunogenicity and protection elicited by a licensed inactivated influenza vaccine.
influenza vaccine; viral adjuvants; animal model; antibody and cellular immunity
Diethylaminoethyl-dextran exhibited a significant effect on the primary immune response of rhesus monkeys to formalin-inactivated Venezuelan equine encephalomyelitis virus vaccine (IVEE). Antibody formed to IVEE and adjuvant followed a classic immunoglobulin M-immunoglobulin G pattern; however, as compared with vaccine alone, use of this adjuvant with IVEE reduced the time required for onset of immunoglobulin G synthesis.
During the summer and fall of 1971, epizootic and epidemic Venezuelan equine encephalitis was detected in Texas. Isolates of epizootic (IB) and vaccine (TC-83) strains were distinguished by virulence of the former for guinea pigs. Vaccine virus was isolated from 1 to 14 days after vaccination and neutralization tests demonstrated the appearance of antibody about a week after vaccination. Viremia titers of subtype IB in horses ranged from 2.2 to 8.3 log10 suckling mouse intracranial 50% lethal doses per ml. Of 101 equines from which Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (IB or TC-83) strains were isolated, 87 had no neutralizing antibody against Venezuelan, eastern or western equine encephalitis viruses.
Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV) belongs to the Alphavirus group. Several species of this family are also pathogenic to humans and are recognized as potential agents of biological warfare and terrorism. The objective of this work was the generation of recombinant antibodies for the detection of VEEV after a potential bioterrorism assault or an natural outbreak of VEEV.
In this work, human anti-VEEV single chain Fragments variable (scFv) were isolated for the first time from a human naïve antibody gene library using optimized selection processes. In total eleven different scFvs were identified and their immunological specificity was assessed. The specific detection of the VEEV strains TC83, H12/93 and 230 by the selected antibody fragments was proved. Active as well as formalin inactivated virus particles were recognized by the selected antibody fragments which could be also used for Western blot analysis of VEEV proteins and immunohistochemistry of VEEV infected cells. The anti-VEEV scFv phage clones did not show any cross-reactivity with Alphavirus species of the Western equine encephalitis virus (WEEV) and Eastern equine encephalitis virus (EEEV) antigenic complex, nor did they react with Chikungunya virus (CHIKV), if they were used as detection reagent.
For the first time, this study describes the selection of antibodies against a human pathogenic virus from a human naïve scFv antibody gene library using complete, active virus particles as antigen. The broad and sensitive applicability of scFv-presenting phage for the immunological detection and diagnosis of Alphavirus species was demonstrated. The selected antibody fragments will improve the fast identification of VEEV in case of a biological warfare or terroristic attack or a natural outbreak.
Despite many years of research, a dengue vaccine is not available, and the more advanced live attenuated vaccine candidate in clinical trials requires multiple immunizations with long interdose periods and provides low protective efficacy. Here, we report important contributions to the development of a second-generation dengue vaccine. First, we demonstrate that a nonpropagating vaccine vector based on Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus replicon particles (VRP) expressing two configurations of dengue virus E antigen (subviral particles [prME] and soluble E dimers [E85]) successfully immunized and protected macaques against dengue virus, while antivector antibodies did not interfere with a booster immunization. Second, compared to prME-VRP, E85-VRP induced neutralizing antibodies faster, to higher titers, and with improved protective efficacy. Third, this study is the first to map antigenic domains and specificities targeted by vaccination versus natural infection, revealing that, unlike prME-VRP and live virus, E85-VRP induced only serotype-specific antibodies, which predominantly targeted EDIII, suggesting a protective mechanism different from that induced by live virus and possibly live attenuated vaccines. Fourth, a tetravalent E85-VRP dengue vaccine induced a simultaneous and protective response to all 4 serotypes after 2 doses given 6 weeks apart. Balanced responses and protection in macaques provided further support for exploring the immunogenicity and safety of this vaccine candidate in humans.
Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is an emerging alphavirus that has caused major epidemics in India and islands off the east coast of Africa since 2005. Importations into Europe and the Americas, including one that led to epidemic transmission in Italy during 2007, underscore the risk of endemic establishment elsewhere. Because there is no licensed human vaccine, and an attenuated Investigational New Drug product developed by the U.S. Army causes mild arthritis in some vaccinees, we developed chimeric alphavirus vaccine candidates using either Venezuelan equine encephalitis attenuated vaccine strain TC-83, a naturally attenuated strain of eastern equine encephalitis virus (EEEV), or Sindbis virus as a backbone and the structural protein genes of CHIKV. All vaccine candidates replicated efficiently in cell cultures, and were highly attenuated in mice. All of the chimeras also produced robust neutralizing antibody responses, although the TC-83 and EEEV backbones appeared to offer greater immunogenicity. Vaccinated mice were fully protected against disease and viremia after CHIKV challenge.
chikungunya; arthritis; vaccine; alphavirus
Porin (PorB) is a major outer membrane protein produced by all Neisseria gonorrhoeae strains and has been a focus of intense interest as a vaccine candidate. In this study, the immunogenicity of PorB in mice was investigated after several immunization regimens. Outer membrane vesicles (OMV), recombinant renatured PorB (rrPorB), and PorB-expressing Venezuelan equine encephalitis (VEE) virus replicon particles (PorB VRP) were delivered intranasally (i.n.) or subcutaneously (s.c.) into the dorsal area or the hind footpad in three-dose schedules; the PorB VRP-immunized mice were given a single additional booster dose of rrPorB in Ribi adjuvant. Different delivery systems and administration routes induced different immune responses. Mice immunized s.c. with rrPorB in Ribi had the highest levels of PorB-specific serum immunoglobulin G (IgG) by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Surprisingly, there was an apparent Th1 bias, based on IgG1/IgG2a ratios, after immunization with rrPorB in Ribi in the footpad while the same vaccine given in the dorsal area gave a strongly Th2-biased response. PorB VRP-immunized mice produced a consistent Th1 response with a high gamma interferon response in stimulated splenic lymphocytes and very low IgG1/IgG2a ratios. Immunization by OMV delivered i.n. was the only regimen that resulted in a serum bactericidal response, and it generated an excellent mucosal IgA response. Serum from mice immunized with rrPorB preferentially recognized the surface of whole gonococci expressing a homologous PorB, whereas serum from PorB VRP-immunized mice had relatively low whole-cell binding activity but recognized both heterologous and homologous PorB equally. The data resulting from this direct comparison suggested that important aspects of the immune response can be manipulated by altering the form of the antigen and its delivery. This information coupled with an understanding of protective antigonococcal immune responses will enable the design of the optimal vaccine for N. gonorrhoeae.
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is an important viral pathogen that causes severe lower respiratory tract infection in infants, the elderly, and immunocompromised individuals. There are no licensed RSV vaccines to date. To prevent RSV infection, immune responses in both the upper and lower respiratory tracts are required. Previously, immunization with Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus replicon particles (VRPs) demonstrated effectiveness in inducing mucosal protection against various pathogens. In this study, we developed VRPs encoding RSV fusion (F) or attachment (G) glycoproteins and evaluated the immunogenicity and efficacy of these vaccine candidates in mice and cotton rats. VRPs, when administered intranasally, induced surface glycoprotein-specific virus neutralizing antibodies in serum and immunoglobulin A (IgA) antibodies in secretions at the respiratory mucosa. In addition, fusion protein-encoding VRPs induced gamma interferon (IFN-γ)-secreting T cells in the lungs and spleen, as measured by reaction with an H-2Kd-restricted CD8+ T-cell epitope. In animals vaccinated with F protein VRPs, challenge virus replication was reduced below the level of detection in both the upper and lower respiratory tracts following intranasal RSV challenge, while in those vaccinated with G protein VRPs, challenge virus was detected in the upper but not the lower respiratory tract. Close examination of histopathology of the lungs of vaccinated animals following RSV challenge revealed no enhanced inflammation. Immunization with VRPs induced balanced Th1/Th2 immune responses, as measured by the cytokine profile in the lungs and antibody isotype of the humoral immune response. These results represent an important first step toward the use of VRPs encoding RSV proteins as a prophylactic vaccine for RSV.
Human metapneumovirus (hMPV) is a recently discovered paramyxovirus that causes upper and lower respiratory tract infections in infants, the elderly, and immunocompromised individuals worldwide. Here, we developed Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus replicon particles (VRPs) encoding hMPV fusion (F) or attachment (G) glycoproteins and evaluated the immunogenicity and protective efficacy of these vaccine candidates in mice and cotton rats. VRPs encoding hMPV F protein, when administered intranasally, induced F-specific virus-neutralizing antibodies in serum and immunoglobulin A (IgA) antibodies in secretions at the respiratory mucosa. Challenge virus replication was reduced significantly in both the upper and lower respiratory tracts following intranasal hMPV challenge in these animals. However, vaccination with hMPV G protein VRPs did not induce neutralizing antibodies or protect animals from hMPV challenge. Close examination of the histopathology of the lungs of VRP-MPV F-vaccinated animals following hMPV challenge revealed no enhancement of inflammation or mucus production. Aberrant cytokine gene expression was not detected in these animals. Together, these results represent an important first step toward the use of VRPs encoding hMPV F proteins as a prophylactic vaccine for hMPV.
Formalin-inactivated Venezuelan equine encephalomyelitis vaccine was prepared from virus propagated in rolling-bottle cultures of chicken embryo cells. The attenuated, TC-83 strain of virus was propagated in these cultures with a maintenance medium consisting of serum-free medium 199 containing 0.25% human serum albumin and antibiotics. By adjustment of maintenance medium volume (100 to 300 ml) and multiplicity of inoculum (0.04 to 0.00004), high-titered yields of virus were obtained with minimal cell destruction at convenient harvest times, viz, 18 to 24 h postinoculation. Inactivation of virus at 37 C was complete between 8 to 10 h with 0.05% Formalin and within 6 to 8 h with 0.1% Formalin. Antigen extinction potency tests in mice indicated that potent vaccines could be produced at both Formalin concentrations and, furthermore, that potency was not adversely affected by inactivation periods of up to 96 h.
Mice immunized with recombinant vaccinia virus (VACC) expressing Venezuelan equine encephalitis (VEE) virus capsid protein and glycoproteins E1 and E2 or with attenuated VEE TC-83 virus vaccine developed VEE-specific neutralizing antibody and survived intraperitoneal challenge with virulent VEE virus strains including Trinidad donkey (subtype 1AB), P676 (subtype 1C), 3880 (subtype 1D), and Everglades (subtype 2). However, unlike immunization with TC-83 virus, immunization with the recombinant VACC/VEE virus did not protect mice from intranasal challenge with VEE Trinidad donkey virus. These results suggest that recombinant VACC/VEE virus is a vaccine candidate for equines and humans at risk of mosquito-transmitted VEE disease but not for laboratory workers at risk of accidental exposure to aerosol infection with VEE virus.
Formalin-inactivated Venezuelan equine encephalomyelitis vaccine was prepared from virus grown in rolling-bottle cultures of chicken embryo cells. Trinidad strain virus was propagated in these cultures with a maintenance medium consisting of serum-free medium 199 containing 0.25% human serum albumin (USP) and antibiotics. Manipulation of multiplicity of inoculum (0.06 to 0.00006) and maintenance medium volume (100 to 300 ml) resulted in high-titered virus yields and only moderate cell destruction when fluids from infected cultures were harvested at 18 to 24 hr. The virus was inactivated at 37 C by 0.05% Formalin within 8 to 10 hr and with 0.1% Formalin within 6 to 8 hr. Single dose, antigen extinction tests in mice performed with 30 small-scale vaccine lots showed excellent potency at either Formalin concentration with inactivation periods ranging from 24 to 96 hr.
During 1971, an epizootic of Venezuelan equine encephalitis (VEE) reached the United States. Laboratory tests were performed on a large number of sick, healthy, unvaccinated, and vaccinated horses. Neutralization (N) tests in cell cultures revealed that 153 of 193 (79.3%) equines outside the state of Texas and 175 of 204 (85.8%) within Texas (82.6% overall) had detectable N antibody to VEE virus a week or more after vaccination. Twenty-six of 40 (65%) non-Texas equines and 18 of 29 (62%) Texas equines which had no detectable antibody against VEE virus a week or more after vaccination had N antibody against Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) or Western equine encephalitis (WEE) virus or both, whereas only 50 of 153 (32.7%) non-Texas equines and 82 of 175 (46.9%) Texas equines with demonstrable N antibody against VEE also had N antibody against EEE and/or WEE virus. In vaccinated equines, significant negative correlations were found between the occurrence of antibody to VEE and antibody to EEE and/or WEE virus. These findings support the hypothesis that pre-existing antibody to EEE and/or WEE virus may modify or interfere with infection by VEE virus. The epizoologic significance of this possibility is discussed briefly.
Successful live attenuated vaccines mimic natural exposure to pathogens without causing disease and have been successful against several viruses. However, safety concerns prevent the development of attenuated human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) as a vaccine candidate. If a safe, replicating virus vaccine could be developed, it might have the potential to offer significant protection against HIV infection and disease. Described here is the development of a novel self-replicating chimeric virus vaccine candidate that is designed to provide natural exposure to a lentivirus-like particle and to incorporate the properties of a live attenuated virus vaccine without the inherent safety issues associated with attenuated lentiviruses. The genome from the alphavirus Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEE) was modified to express SHIV89.6P genes encoding the structural proteins Gag and Env. Expression of Gag and Env from VEE RNA in primate cells led to the assembly of particles that morphologically and functionally resembled lentivirus virions and that incorporated alphavirus RNA. Infection of CD4+ cells with chimeric lentivirus-like particles was specific and productive, resulting in RNA replication, expression of Gag and Env, and generation of progeny chimeric particles. Further genome modifications designed to enhance encapsidation of the chimeric virus genome and to express an attenuated simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) protease for particle maturation improved the ability of chimeric lentivirus-like particles to propagate in cell culture. This study provides proof of concept for the feasibility of creating chimeric virus genomes that express lentivirus structural proteins and assemble into infectious particles for presentation of lentivirus immunogens in their native and functional conformation.
A candidate vaccine (D1ME-VRP) expressing dengue virus type 1 premembrane and envelope proteins in a Venezuelan equine encephalitis (VEE) virus replicon particle (VRP) system was constructed and tested in conjunction with a plasmid DNA vaccine (D1ME-DNA) expressing identical dengue virus sequences. Cynomolgus macaques were vaccinated with three doses of DNA (DDD), three doses of VRP (VVV group), or a heterologous DNA prime-VRP boost regimen (DDV) using two doses of DNA vaccine and a third dose of VRP vaccine. Four weeks after the final immunization, the DDV group produced the highest dengue virus type 1-specific immunoglobulin G antibody responses and virus-neutralizing antibody titers. Moderate T-cell responses were demonstrated only in DDD- and DDV-vaccinated animals. When vaccinated animals were challenged with live virus, all vaccination regimens showed significant protection from viremia. DDV-immunized animals were completely protected from viremia (mean time of viremia = 0 days), whereas DDD- and VVV-vaccinated animals had mean times of viremia of 0.66 and 0.75 day, respectively, compared to 6.33 days for the control group of animals.
Purified and concentrated Venezuelan equine encephalitis (VEE) virus derived from tissue cultures, rendered noninfectious by ionizing radiation with retention of in vitro serological activity, also retained a high level of immunogenicity. In mice, fluid vaccines afforded excellent protection against lethal challenge with homologous Trinidad strain VEE virus. A direct relationship was observed between concentration of vaccine or number of injections and survival. One intraperitoneal inoculation of undiluted vaccine protected essentially all mice challenged 21 days later with 100,000 mouse intraperitoneal LD50 of virus. Similarly, mice receiving three injections of vaccines diluted 1:100 were completely protected. Noninfectious VEE virus preparations combined with adjuvant 65, a nontoxic metabolizable vehicle, were likewise very effective in protecting mice immunized intraperitoneally or subcutaneously against lethal challenge. Guinea pigs immunized subcutaneously with adjuvant-combined vaccine survived lethal challenge of 1,000,000 guinea pig intraperitoneal LD50.