The rubella vaccine was introduced into the immunization program in 1995 in the Shandong province, China. A series of different rubella vaccination strategies were implemented at different stages of measles control in Shandong province.
The average reported incidence rate of rubella cases remained at a low level in Shandong province after 1999. However, rubella epidemics occurred repeatedly in 2001/2002, 2006, and 2008/2009. The age of the onset of rubella cases gradually increased during 1999–2010, which showed that most cases were found among the 10 years old in 1999 and among the 17 years old in 2010. Phylogenetic analysis was performed and a phylogenetic tree was constructed based on the World Health Organization standard sequence window for rubella virus isolates. All rubella viruses isolated in Shandong province were divided into 4 genotypes: 1E, 1F, 2A, and 2B. Genotype 1E viruses accounted for the majority (79%) of all these viruses. The similarity of nucleotide and amino acid sequences among genotype 1E viruses was 98.2–100% and 99.1–100%, respectively. All Shandong genotype 1E strains, differed from international genotype 1E strains, belonged to cluster 1 and interdigitated with the viruses from other provinces in mainland China. The effective number of infections indicated by a Bayesian skyline plot remained constant from 2001 to 2009.
The gradual shift of disease burden to an older age group occurred after a rubella-containing vaccine was introduced into the childhood immunization schedule in 1995 in Shandong province. Four genotypes, including 1E, 1F, 2A, and 2B, were found in Shandong province during 2000–2009. Genotype 1E, rather than genotype 1F, became the predominant genotype circulating in Shandong province from 2001. All Shandong genotype 1E viruses belong to the genotype 1E/cluster 1; they have constantly circulated, and co-evolved and co-circulated, with those from other provinces.
The incidence of rubella cases in China from 1991 to 2007 was reviewed, and the nucleotide sequences from 123 rubella viruses collected during 1999 to 2007 and 4 viral sequences previously reported from 1979 to 1984 were phylogenetically analyzed. Rubella vaccination was not included in national immunization programs in China before 2007. Changes in endemic viruses were compared with incidences of rubella epidemics. The results showed that rubella epidemics occur approximately every 6 to 8 years (1993/1994, 2001, and 2007), and a shift of disease burden to susceptible young adults was observed. The Chinese rubella virus sequences were categorized into 5 of the 13 rubella virus genotypes, 1a, 1E, 1F, 2A, and 2B; cocirculations of these different genotypes were found in China. In Anhui province, a shift in the predominant genotype from 1F and 2B to 1E coincided with the 2001 rubella epidemic. This shift may have occurred throughout China during 2001 to 2007. This study investigated the genotype distribution of rubella viruses in China over a 28-year period to establish an important genetic baseline in China during its prevaccination era.
A series of different rubella vaccination strategies were implemented to control rubella and prevent congenital rubella virus infection in Beijing, China. The rubella vaccine was available in 1995 in Beijing, and was introduced into the Beijing immunization program (vaccine recipients at their own expense vaccination) in 2000, and was introduced into the National Expanded Program on Immunization (vaccine recipients free vaccination) in 2006. Rubella virological surveillance started in Beijing in 2007.
The reported rubella incidence rate has decreased dramatically due to the introduction of the vaccine in Beijing since 1995. However, rubella epidemics occurred regardless in 2001 and 2007. The incidence rate among the floating population has gradually increased since 2002, reaching 2 or more times that in the permanent resident population. The peak age of rubella cases gradually changed from <15 years of age to adults after 2005. Phylogenetic analysis was performed and a phylogenetic tree was constructed based on the World Health Organization standard sequence window for rubella virus isolates. All Beijing rubella virus isolates belong to genotype 1E/cluster1 and were clustered interspersed with viruses from other provinces in China. The effective number of infections indicated by a Bayesian skyline plot remained constant from 2007 to 2011.
The proportion of rubella cases among the floating population has increased significantly in Beijing since 2002, and the disease burden gradually shifted to the older age group (15- to 39-year olds), which has become a major group with rubella infection since 2006. Genotype 1E rubella virus continuously caused a rubella epidemic in Beijing in 2007–2011 and was the predominant virus, and all Beijing genotype 1E viruses belong to cluster 1, which is also widely circulated throughout the country.
Rubella epidemics; Rubella virus; Genotype 1E, Beijing
Rubella is an acute infectious disease that normally has a mild clinical course. However, infections during pregnancy, especially before week 12 of gestation (WG), can cause severe birth defects known as congenital rubella syndrome (CRS). The aim of this study was to perform genotyping and molecular characterization of rubella viruses involved in congenital infections in France over the past 15 years (1995 to 2009). Amniotic fluid (AF) specimens (n = 80) from pregnant women with congenital rubella infections (CRI) before week 20 of gestation, and a few other samples available from children/newborns with CRS (n = 26), were analyzed. The coding region of the rubella virus E1 gene was amplified directly from clinical specimens by reverse transcriptase PCR, and the resulting DNA fragments were sequenced. Sequences were assigned to genotypes by phylogenetic analysis with rubella virus reference sequences. Sufficient E1 gene sequences were obtained from 56 cases. Phylogenetic analysis of the sequences showed that at least five different genotypes (1E, 1G, 1B, 2B, and 1h) were present in France and were involved in congenital infections, with a strong predominance of genotype 1E (87%). This is one of the very few comprehensive studies of rubella viruses involved in CRI. The results indicated that over the past 15 years, multiple introductions of the dominant genotype E caused most of the CRI cases in France. A few sporadic cases were due to other genotypes (1B, 1G, 1h, 2B).
The importance of rubella lies in the 15 to 20 per cent incidence of damage to the fetus when infection occurs in the first trimester of pregnancy. The “rubella syndrome” appears as various combinations of congenital defects, chiefly cardiac anomalies, cataracts and impaired hearing.
Now that the rubella virus has been isolated and grown in tissue culture, it is possible to study the spread of the disease, to determine apparent and inapparent infection rates and to investigate the nature of fetal infection. It has been found that the disease is a highly contagious one in the family setting, and that inapparent infections are more common than overt cases with rash. Infection of the fetus in the early weeks of intrauterine life may become chronic, and virus has been recovered from placenta and fetal specimens collected at induced abortions many weeks after the maternal disease. Infants born with the rubella syndrome are still shedding virus at birth and may continue to do so for at least several months.
Gamma globulin, which is effective in preventing measles and hepatitis, has not been highly effective in the prevention of rubella when given to those exposed to the disease. Successful control of the rubella problem will depend upon the development of an active vaccine, which is a possibility now that the virus can be grown in tissue culture.
Phylogenetic analysis of a collection of 103 E1 gene sequences from rubella viruses isolated from 17 countries from 1961 to 2000 confirmed the existence of at least two genotypes. Rubella genotype I (RGI) isolates, predominant in Europe, Japan, and the Western Hemisphere, segregated into discrete subgenotypes; intercontinental subgenotypes present in the 1960s and 1970s were replaced by geographically restricted subgenotypes after ~1980. Recently, active subgenotypes include one in the United States and Latin America, one in China, and a third that apparently originated in Asia and spread to Europe and North America, starting in 1997, indicating the recent emergence of an intercontinental subgenotype. A virus that potentially arose as a recombinant between two RGI subgenotypes was discovered. Rubella genotype II (RGII) showed greater genetic diversity than did RGI and may actually consist of multiple genotypes. RGII viruses were limited to Asia and Europe; RGI viruses were also present in most of the countries where RGII viruses were isolated.
Rubella virus; virus genotypes; molecular epidemiology; virus distribution; virus recombination
Congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) is associated with several negative outcomes, including autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). The objective of this study was to estimate the numbers of CRS and ASD cases prevented by rubella vaccination in the United States from 2001 through 2010.
Prevention estimates were calculated through simple mathematical modeling, with values of model parameters determined from published literature. Model parameters included pre-vaccine era CRS incidence, vaccine era CRS incidence, the number of live births per year, and the percentage of CRS cases presenting with an ASD.
Based on our estimates, 16,600 CRS cases (range: 8300-62,250) were prevented by rubella vaccination from 2001 through 2010 in the United States. An estimated 1228 ASD cases were prevented by rubella vaccination in the United States during this time period. Simulating a slight expansion in ASD diagnostic criteria in recent decades, we estimate that a minimum of 830 ASD cases and a maximum of 6225 ASD cases were prevented.
We estimate that rubella vaccination prevented substantial numbers of CRS and ASD cases in the United States from 2001 through 2010. These findings provide additional incentive to maintain high measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccination coverage.
We report on the construction of a full-length cDNA clone, pBRM33, derived from wild-type rubella virus M33 strain. The RNA transcripts synthesized in vitro from pBRM33 are highly infectious, and the viruses produced retain the phenotypic characteristics of the parental M33 virus in growth rate and plaque size. This cDNA clone was used to study the role of E1 transmembrane and cytoplasmic domains in virus assembly by site-directed mutagenesis. Three different alanine substitutions were introduced in the transmembrane domain of E1. These included substitution of leucine 464, cysteine 466, cysteine 467, and both cysteines 466 and 467 to alanine. In the E1 cytoplasmic domain, cysteine 470 and leucine 471 were altered to alanine. We found that these mutations did not significantly affect viral RNA replication, viral structural protein synthesis and transport, or E2/E1 heterodimer formation. Except for the substitution of cysteine 470, these mutations did, however, lead to a reduction in virus release. Substitution of cysteine 467 in the transmembrane region and of leucine 471 in the cytoplasmic domain dramatically reduced virus yield, resulting in the production of only 1 and 10% of the parental virus yield, respectively, in a parallel infection. These data show that E1 transmembrane and cytoplasmic domains play an important role in late stages of virus assembly, possibly during virus budding, consistent with earlier studies indicating that the E1 cytoplasmic domain may interact with nucleocapsids and that this interaction drives virus budding.
Joint manifestations observed during the course of a prospective RA 27/3 rubella immunisation trial were compared with those observed during an intercurrent wild rubella epidemic in an outlying community. Among 44 rubella haemagglutination inhibition (HAI) negative females ranging in age from 17 to 33 years who received rubella vaccine, six (13.6%) developed acute polyarticular arthritis within two to four weeks postvaccine and two (4.5%) had continuing or recurrent arthropathy lasting longer than 18 months. In contrast, among 23 females ranging in age from 11 to 39 years undergoing wild rubella infection, 12 (52.2%) developed acute polyarticular arthritis and seven (30.4%) had recurrent arthropathy 18 months postinfection. Among 23 males ranging in age from 13 to 54 years undergoing wild rubella infection, only two (8.7%) developed acute arthritis and both individuals had continuing joint manifestations 18 months postinfection. Wild rubella infection in adult populations is associated with a higher incidence, increased severity, and more prolonged duration of joint manifestations than is seen after RA 27/3 rubella immunisation.
Rubella virus is the causative agent of rubella, a mild rash illness, and a potent teratogenic agent when contracted by a pregnant woman. Global rubella control programs target the reduction and elimination of congenital rubella syndrome. Phylogenetic analysis of partial sequences of rubella viruses has contributed to virus surveillance efforts and played an important role in demonstrating that indigenous rubella viruses have been eliminated in the United States. Sixteen wild-type rubella viruses were chosen for whole genome sequencing. All 16 viruses were collected in the United States from 1961 to 2009 and are from 8 of the 13 known rubella genotypes. Phylogenetic analysis of 30 whole genome sequences produced a maximum likelihood tree giving high bootstrap values for all genotypes except provisional genotype 1a. Comparison of the 16 new complete sequences and 14 previously sequenced wild-type viruses found regions with clusters of variable amino acids. The 5′ 250 nucleotides of the genome are more conserved than any other part of the genome. Genotype specific deletions in the untranslated region between the non-structural and structural open reading frames were observed for genotypes 2B and genotype 1G. No evidence was seen for recombination events among the 30 viruses. The analysis presented here is consistent with previous reports on the genetic characterization of rubella virus genomes. Conserved and variable regions were identified and additional evidence for genotype specific nucleotide deletions in the intergenic region was found. Phylogenetic analysis confirmed genotype groupings originally based on structural protein coding region sequences, which provides support for the WHO nomenclature for genetic characterization of wild-type rubella viruses.
Rubella virus; Whole genome
Laboratory tests are essential for confirming sporadic cases and outbreaks of rubella. Detection of rubella virus is often necessary to confirm rubella cases and to identify specimens to be used to characterize wild-type rubella viruses. The sensitivities of four methods for detecting rubella virus infection using throat swabs, which had been collected in Henan and Anhui provinces in China, were evaluated. The methods used were reverse transcription (RT)-PCR followed by Southern hybridization using RNA extracted directly from clinical specimens, virus growth in tissue culture followed by virus detection by RT-PCR, low-background immunofluorescence in infected tissue culture cells using monoclonal antibodies to the structural proteins of rubella virus, and a replicon-based method of detecting infectious virus. Among these four methods, direct RT-PCR followed by hybridization was the most sensitive method; the replicon-based method was the least difficult to perform.
Serum samples from patients with various forms of rubella virus infection were tested for antibodies to each of three viral structural proteins by radioimmunoprecipitation and sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. In most sera antibody to E1 protein was the predominant species. Sera from patients with congenital rubella syndrome, however, contained significantly more E2 antibody relative to E1 antibody than did sera from other rubella patients.
Molecular epidemiology of measles virus (MV) is important, not only to measure the success of measles vaccination programs but also to monitor the circulation and elimination of the virus worldwide. In this study, we compared MV obtained from patients before the 2003 mass vaccination MR campaign and viruses detected after 2003 until 2008 in Iran.
The nucleoprotein (N) gene of 29 MV strains circulating in Iran between 2002 and 2008 were amplified by RT-PCR and subjected to sequence and phylogenetic analysis.
Molecular characterization of MV studied here revealed that although the outbreaks in Iran were associated with MV genotype D4, the isolated viruses clearly belonged to several different lineages. Maximum and minimum homology within the 29 Iranian strains in our study was100% and 94.9% within the carboxyl terminus of the N gene, respectively. Using ClustalX program, the alignment of Iranian MV sequences showed nine lineages.
This study provides the usefulness of MV sequence analysis for the demonstration of local interruption of indigenous strain transmission as well as providing a valuable means for monitoring the elimination processes of MV control.
Measles; Genotype; Mass campaign; Iran
An epidemic of rubella reached its peak in the Atlantic provinces in 1974, subsiding in early 1975. With the exception of Quebec the remainder of Canada showed a reverse trend, with a large increase in the numbers of cases reported in the first 41/2 months of 1975. The Halifax virus laboratory reported 106 serologically proven cases of rubella in 1974, 44 of them in pregnant women. In the aftermath of the epidemic many infants were born with the congenital rubella syndrome (CRS). A study carried out from Sept. 1, 1974 through Apr. 30, 1975 showed an 80% correlation between clinical diagnosis and the presence of rubella-specific IgM antibodies in 35 of these infants. Of the 23 infants in whom the diagnosis of CRS was made by laboratory or clinical findings or both, laboratory criteria were met in 20 (87.0%), clinical criteria in 19 (82.6%) and both laboratory and clinical criteria in 16 (69.6%).
Large-scale purification of rubella virus from tissue culture fluid and preparation of an experimental rubella subunit vaccine are described. The virus, purified isopycnically in sucrose gradients, was Tween 80-ether treated, and the product was filtered sterile. The vaccines were of two types, formalinized and nonformalinized. They were not infectious, had only a slight pyrogenicity, and caused no harmful symptoms in animals. The immune response in guinea pigs was better when the nonformalinized vaccine was used and the dosage was 2,500 hemagglutinating units per injection (0.5 ml).
Lymphocyte phytohemagglutinin (PHA) responsiveness was found suppressed in both rubella sero-negative and sero-positive recipients of RA 27/3 strain of live attenuated rubella vaccine; the suppression was readily demonstrable only when a suboptimal dose of PHA was applied in the test. Lymphocytes from sero-negative vaccinees, which initially showed little or no in vitro response to concentrated rubella virus, became responsive after vaccination by day 21, when the highest sensitization to rubella antigen was seen. In the sero-positive vaccinees. lymphocytes responded to rubella antigen in vitro before vaccination, and in most cases vaccination did not result in significant changes in lymphocyte response. These results suggest that rubella vaccination leads to temporarily increased lymphocyte reactivity to rubella antigen, and the increased lymphocyte response to specific antigen may occur at the time of mild suppression of PHA response.
Rubella virus (RV)-specific immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies were studied in military recruits undergoing unselected immunization with live attenuated measles, mumps, and rubella virus (MMR) vaccine. Three different whole-RV enzyme immunoassays (EIAs) and an epitope-specific EIA with a synthetic peptide (BCH-178c) representing a heutralization domain on the RV E1 envelope protein were used. Before vaccination, 84.2, 87.7, and 84.5% of the subjects tested (n = 399) were found to be seropositive (> 10 IU/ml or assay equivalent) by the three whole-RV EIAs, respectively, while only 82.5% were seropositive by the BCH-178c EIA. Although prevaccination seropositivity rates were similar for the whole-RV EIAs (sensitivity, 94 to 100%), many sera considered seropositive by the whole-RV EIAs had E1 peptide EIA antibody levels of < 10 IU/ml (sensitivity, 77.4 to 80.7%). One month after vaccination, 97.8, 97.2, and 93.5% of the subjects who were followed (n = 356) were seropositive by the three whole-RV EIAs, respectively, while 89% had BCH-178c peptide-specific IgG titers of > 10 IU/ml. After vaccination, depending on the assay used, up to 20.6% of initially seropositive individuals exhibited a greater than fourfold increase in RV-specific IgG, while up to 47.3% showed a greater than twofold increase. Increased antibody titers after vaccination (seroboosting) were most frequently associated with low levels of BCH-178c peptide-specific IgG before vaccination. RV protein-specific IgG was also studied by immunoblot assays in a subset (n = 56) of individuals receiving the MMR vaccine. Of these, 89.4 and 91.1% exhibited RV protein (E1, E2, and C protein)-specific IgG before and after vaccination, respectively. Seroboosting (two- to fourfold increase in EIA titers of individuals seropositive by the whole-RV EIA before vaccination) was usually accompanied by a shift in the IgG immunoblot pattern from a single (E1) to multiple (E1-E1, E1-C, or E1-E2-C) specificities, suggesting exposure of new epitopes as a result of viral replication.
Two groups of young rubella-susceptible women were vaccinated with two rubella vaccines. Heparinized blood samples were taken from all individuals the day of vaccination and 5, 7, 15, 21, 30, 35, and 42 days later. Purified lymphocytes from these samples were cocultivated with AGMK cells for rubella virus isolation. Parallel samples of lymphocytes were stimulated with phytohemagglutinin, and the rate of [14C]thymidine incorporation was determined. Rubella virus was isolated from lymphocytes collected on days 7, 15, and 21 after RA27/3 vaccination in contrast to days 7 to 35 after HPV77 vaccination. The lymphocyte response to phytohemagglutinin was markedly suppressed from day 5 to 15. Normal lymphocyte responses were restored within 1 month after vaccination with RA27/3, but even later (1 week) after HPV77 vaccine. Lymphocytes from rubella-susceptible persons infected invitro with rubella virus vaccines and stimulated with phytohemagglutin displayed a decrease in their responsiveness to the mitogen similar to that observed with lymphocytes from vaccinees. The transient immunosuppression observed in vaccinees is probably due to virus-induced functional damage of the lymphocytes since no direct cytocidal effect of rubella vaccine has been demonstrated on human lymphocytes.
Ribonucleic acid (RNA) has been isolated from partially purified rubella virus preparations and fractionated by rate zonal centrifugation in sucrose density gradients. The bulk of the RNA sedimented as a sharp band with a sedimentation coefficient of 38S. Rubella virus RNA appears to be single-stranded on the basis of its sensitivity to the degrading action of ribonuclease. Fractionation by precipitation with 1 m NaCl, followed by chromatography on cellulose columns, and by rate zonal centrifugation in sucrose density gradients of labeled RNA isolated from actinomycin D-treated and infected baby hamster kidney cells revealed the presence of the following virus-specific types of RNA: (i) single-stranded RNA with a heterogeneous sedimentation pattern, the 38S viral RNA becoming the predominant species only after long periods of labeling late after infection; (ii) double-stranded RNA with a sedimentation coefficient of 20S; (iii) RNA apparently composed of 20S double-stranded RNA and single-stranded branches. On the basis of their properties, the last two species were tentatively identified as the replicative form and the replicative intermediate of rubella virus RNA. Rubella virus RNA was infectious.
A reverse transcription nested PCR (RT-PCR) assay for the detection of rubella virus RNA using primers from the E1 open reading frame was established. This assay was found to be sensitive (detecting approximately two synthetic RNA copies and RNA extracted from 0.1 50% tissue culture infective dose of rubella virus) and specific; five wild-type rubella strains and four vaccine strains were detected, and no nonspecific amplification of 16 other RNA viruses or RNAs from seven cell types occurred. Rubella virus RNA was detected in 12 pharyngeal swabs from patients with serologically confirmed rubella; these RT-PCR results were in complete agreement with virus isolation. Analysis of products of conception obtained after confirmed primary maternal rubella infection by RT-PCR gave 92% agreement (12 of 13 samples) with virus isolation. No false-positive results were obtained. The potential use of this assay for prenatal diagnosis of congenital rubella infection and for investigating aspects of the pathogenesis of chronic disease is discussed.
Both rubella virus and Echovirus 9 (ECHO 9) were epidemic in Scotland during the summer of 1973; both viruses can cause a mild febrile illness with rash. Sera from 286 rubella-negative pregnant women were tested for neutralizing antibodies to ECHO 9 virus; 40 women had antibody titres suggestive of recent infection. Prospective studies on the outcome of these pregnancies are in progress but preliminary results suggest no connexion between fetal damage and ECHO 9 infection.
In the villages of Fiji, apart from Viti Levu, rubella is a disease occurring solely in widely spaced epidemics. Some villages may not be infected for over 20 years and will then contain substantial numbers of susceptible women of child-bearing age.
Evidence is produced that haemagglutination-inhibiting (H.I.) antibody to rubella is very long lasting in Fijians. The infectivity of the virus is discussed and it is suggested that, on the average, 50% of susceptibles are infected in a Fijian village during a rubella epidemic, but there are large variations.
Rubella virus contains three structural proteins, capsid, E2, and E1. E2 and E1 are type I membrane glycoproteins that form a heterodimer in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) before they are transported to and retained in the Golgi complex, where virus assembly occurs. The bulk of unassembled E2 and E1 subunits are not transported to the Golgi complex. We have recently shown that E2 contains a Golgi-targeting signal that mediates retention of the E2-E1 complex (T. C. Hobman, L. Woodward, and M. G. Farquhar, Mol. Biol. Cell 6:7-20, 1995). The focus of this study was to determine if E1 glycoprotein also contains intracellular targeting information. We constructed a series of chimeric reporter proteins by fusing domains from E1 to the ectodomains of two other type I membrane proteins which are normally transported to the cell surface, vesicular stomatitis virus G protein (G) and CD8. Fusion of the E1 transmembrane and cytoplasmic regions, but not analogous domains from two control membrane proteins, to the ectodomains of G and CD8 proteins caused the resulting chimeras to be retained in the ER. Association of the ER-retained chimeras with known ER chaperone proteins was not detected. ER localization required both the transmembrane and cytoplasmic regions of E1, since neither of these domains alone was sufficient to retain the reporter proteins. Increasing the length of the E1 cytoplasmic domain by 10 amino acids completely abrogated ER retention. This finding also indicated that the chimeras were not retained as a result of misfolding. In summary, we have identified a new type of ER retention signal that may function to prevent unassembled E1 subunits and/or immature E2-E1 dimers from reaching the Golgi complex, where they could interfere with viral assembly. Accordingly, assembly of E2 and E1 would mask the signal, thereby allowing transport of the heterodimer from the ER.
The immunity to rubella of 115 girls aged 10 to 14 years was tested in 1978. The proportion of girls found to be immune was 80%, similar to rates in the prevaccination era. Nearly half of the immunity was from documented vaccination, and the other half was presumably from infection with wild rubella virus. The vaccination failure rate was 12%. Because of declining immunity to rubella of women of child-bearing age, detecting low levels of immunity in these women is becoming increasingly important. Immunization of 12- to 15-month-old children has not been effective. Vaccinating all girls 10 to 12 years old would likely be the most effective method of preventing an increase in the incidence of congenital rubella syndrome in the next decade.
Live attenuated viruses make potent and effective vaccines. Despite the urgent need for an HIV vaccine, this approach has not been feasible, since it has not been possible to attenuate the virus reliably and guarantee vaccine safety. Instead, live viral vectors have been proposed that could present HIV vaccine antigens in the most immunogenic way, in the context of an active infection. We have adapted the rubella vaccine strain RA27/3 as a vector to express HIV and SIV antigens, and tested the effect of insert size and composition on vector stability and viral titer. We have identified an acceptor site in the rubella nonstructural gene region, where foreign genes can be expressed as a fusion protein with the nonstructural protein P150 without affecting essential viral functions. The inserts were expressed as early genes of rubella, under control of the rubella genomic promoter. At this site, HIV and SIV antigens were expressed stably for at least seven passages, as the rubella vectors reached high titers. Rubella readily infects rhesus macaques, and these animals will provide an ideal model for testing the new vectors for replication in vivo, immunogenicity, and protection against SIV or SHIV challenge.
live viral vectors; rubella vaccine strain RA27/3; stable expression; HIV MPER; SIV Gag; vaccine antigen