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1.  Protection from Ebola Virus Mediated by Cytotoxic T Lymphocytes Specific for the Viral Nucleoprotein 
Journal of Virology  2001;75(6):2660-2664.
Cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) are proposed to be critical for protection from intracellular pathogens such as Ebola virus. However, there have been no demonstrations that protection against Ebola virus is mediated by Ebola virus-specific CTLs. Here, we report that C57BL/6 mice vaccinated with Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus replicons encoding the Ebola virus nucleoprotein (NP) survived lethal challenge with Ebola virus. Vaccination induced both antibodies to the NP and a major histocompatibility complex class I-restricted CTL response to an 11-amino-acid sequence in the amino-terminal portion of the Ebola virus NP. Passive transfer of polyclonal NP-specific antiserum did not protect recipient mice. In contrast, adoptive transfer of CTLs specific for the Ebola virus NP protected unvaccinated mice from lethal Ebola virus challenge. The protective CTLs were CD8+, restricted to the Db class I molecule, and recognized an epitope within amino acids 43 to 53 (VYQVNNLEEIC) in the Ebola virus NP. The demonstration that CTLs can prevent lethal Ebola virus infection affects vaccine development in that protective cellular immune responses may be required for optimal protection from Ebola virus.
PMCID: PMC115890  PMID: 11222689
2.  Ebola virus glycoprotein Fc fusion protein confers protection against lethal challenge in vaccinated mice 
Vaccine  2011;29(16):2968-2977.
Ebola virus is a Filoviridae that causes hemorrhagic fever in humans and induces high morbidity and mortality rates. Filoviruses are classified as "Category A bioterrorism agents", and currently there are no licensed therapeutics or vaccines to treat and prevent infection. The Filovirus glycoprotein (GP) is sufficient to protect individuals against infection, and several vaccines based on GP are under development including recombinant adenovirus, parainfluenza virus, Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus, vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) and virus-like particles. Here we describe the development of a GP Fc fusion protein as a vaccine candidate. We expressed the extracellular domain of the Zaire Ebola virus (ZEBOV) GP fused to the Fc fragment of human IgG1 (ZEBOVGP-Fc) in mammalian cells and showed that GP undergoes the complex furin cleavage and processing observed in the native membrane-bound GP. Mice immunized with ZEBOVGP-Fc developed T-cell immunity against ZEBOV GP and neutralizing antibodies against replication-competent VSV-G deleted recombinant VSV containing ZEBOV GP. The ZEBOVGP-Fc vaccinated mice were protected against challenge with a lethal dose of ZEBOV. These results show that vaccination with the ZEBOVGP-Fc fusion protein alone without the need of a viral vector or assembly into virus-like particles is sufficient to induce protective immunity against ZEBOV in mice. Our data suggested that Filovirus GP Fc fusion proteins could be developed as a simple, safe, efficacious, and cost effective vaccine against Filovirus infection for human use.
PMCID: PMC3070761  PMID: 21329775
3.  Evaluation in Nonhuman Primates of Vaccines against Ebola Virus 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2002;8(5):503-507.
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.
PMCID: PMC3369765  PMID: 11996686
Keywords: Ebola; macaque; vaccine; Vaccinia virus; replicon
4.  Protection against lethal challenge by Ebola virus-like particles produced in insect cells 
Virology  2008;383(1):12-21.
Ebola virus-like particles (VLPs) were produced in insect cells using a recombinant baculovirus expression system and their efficacy for protection against Ebola virus infection was investigated. Two immunizations with 50 ug Ebola VLPs (high dose) induced a high level of antibodies against Ebola GP that exhibited strong neutralizing activity against GP-mediated virus infection and conferred complete protection of vaccinated mice against lethal challenge by a high dose of mouse-adapted Ebola virus. In contrast, two immunizations with 10 ug Ebola VLPs (low dose) induced 5-fold lower levels of antibodies against GP and these mice were not protected against lethal Ebola virus challenge, similar to control mice that were immunized with 50 ug SIV Gag VLPs. However, the antibody response against GP were boosted significantly after a third immunization with 10 ug Ebola VLPs to similar levels as those induced by two immunizations with 50 ug Ebola VLPs, and vaccinated mice were also effectively protected against lethal Ebola virus challenge. Furthermore, serum viremia levels in protected mice were either below the level of detection or significantly lower compared to the viremia levels in control mice. These results show that effective protection can be achieved by immunization with Ebola VLPs produced in insect cells, which give high production yields, and lend further support to their development as an effective vaccine strategy against Ebola virus.
PMCID: PMC2657000  PMID: 18986663
5.  Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis Virus Replicon Particle Vaccine Protects Nonhuman Primates from Intramuscular and Aerosol Challenge with Ebolavirus 
Journal of Virology  2013;87(9):4952-4964.
There are no vaccines or therapeutics currently approved for the prevention or treatment of ebolavirus infection. Previously, a replicon vaccine based on Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV) demonstrated protective efficacy against Marburg virus in nonhuman primates. Here, we report the protective efficacy of Sudan virus (SUDV)- and Ebola virus (EBOV)-specific VEEV replicon particle (VRP) vaccines in nonhuman primates. VRP vaccines were developed to express the glycoprotein (GP) of either SUDV or EBOV. A single intramuscular vaccination of cynomolgus macaques with VRP expressing SUDV GP provided complete protection against intramuscular challenge with SUDV. Vaccination against SUDV and subsequent survival of SUDV challenge did not fully protect cynomolgus macaques against intramuscular EBOV back-challenge. However, a single simultaneous intramuscular vaccination with VRP expressing SUDV GP combined with VRP expressing EBOV GP did provide complete protection against intramuscular challenge with either SUDV or EBOV in cynomolgus macaques. Finally, intramuscular vaccination with VRP expressing SUDV GP completely protected cynomolgus macaques when challenged with aerosolized SUDV, although complete protection against aerosol challenge required two vaccinations with this vaccine.
PMCID: PMC3624300  PMID: 23408633
6.  Enhanced Protection against Ebola Virus Mediated by an Improved Adenovirus-Based Vaccine 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(4):e5308.
The Ebola virus is transmitted by direct contact with bodily fluids of infected individuals, eliciting death rates as high as 90% among infected humans. Currently, replication defective adenovirus-based Ebola vaccine is being studied in a phase I clinical trial. Another Ebola vaccine, based on an attenuated vesicular stomatitis virus has shown efficacy in post-exposure treatment of nonhuman primates to Ebola infection. In this report, we modified the common recombinant adenovirus serotype 5-based Ebola vaccine expressing the wild-type ZEBOV glycoprotein sequence from a CMV promoter (Ad-CMVZGP). The immune response elicited by this improved expression cassette vector (Ad-CAGoptZGP) and its ability to afford protection against lethal ZEBOV challenge in mice was compared to the standard Ad-CMVZGP vector.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Ad-CMVZGP was previously shown to protect mice, guinea pigs and nonhuman primates from an otherwise lethal challenge of Zaire ebolavirus. The antigenic expression cassette of this vector was improved through codon optimization, inclusion of a consensus Kozak sequence and reconfiguration of a CAG promoter (Ad-CAGoptZGP). Expression of GP from Ad-CAGoptZGP was substantially higher than from Ad-CMVZGP. Ad-CAGoptZGP significantly improved T and B cell responses at doses 10 to 100-fold lower than that needed with Ad-CMVZGP. Additionally, Ad-CAGoptZGP afforded full protections in mice against lethal challenge at a dose 100 times lower than the dose required for Ad-CMVZGP. Finally, Ad-CAGoptZGP induced full protection to mice when given 30 minutes post-challenge.
We describe an improved adenovirus-based Ebola vaccine capable of affording post-exposure protection against lethal challenge in mice. The molecular modifications of the new improved vaccine also translated in the induction of significantly enhanced immune responses and complete protection at a dose 100 times lower than with the previous generation adenovirus-based Ebola vaccine. Understanding and improving the molecular components of adenovirus-based vaccines can produce potent, optimized product, useful for vaccination and post-exposure therapy.
PMCID: PMC2669164  PMID: 19390586
7.  Immune Protection of Nonhuman Primates against Ebola Virus with Single Low-Dose Adenovirus Vectors Encoding Modified GPs 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(6):e177.
Ebola virus causes a hemorrhagic fever syndrome that is associated with high mortality in humans. In the absence of effective therapies for Ebola virus infection, the development of a vaccine becomes an important strategy to contain outbreaks. Immunization with DNA and/or replication-defective adenoviral vectors (rAd) encoding the Ebola glycoprotein (GP) and nucleoprotein (NP) has been previously shown to confer specific protective immunity in nonhuman primates. GP can exert cytopathic effects on transfected cells in vitro, and multiple GP forms have been identified in nature, raising the question of which would be optimal for a human vaccine.
Methods and Findings
To address this question, we have explored the efficacy of mutant GPs from multiple Ebola virus strains with reduced in vitro cytopathicity and analyzed their protective effects in the primate challenge model, with or without NP. Deletion of the GP transmembrane domain eliminated in vitro cytopathicity but reduced its protective efficacy by at least one order of magnitude. In contrast, a point mutation was identified that abolished this cytopathicity but retained immunogenicity and conferred immune protection in the absence of NP. The minimal effective rAd dose was established at 1010 particles, two logs lower than that used previously.
Expression of specific GPs alone vectored by rAd are sufficient to confer protection against lethal challenge in a relevant nonhuman primate model. Elimination of NP from the vaccine and dose reductions to 1010 rAd particles do not diminish protection and simplify the vaccine, providing the basis for selection of a human vaccine candidate.
A simplified Ebola vaccine that consists of a modified GP protein (which is well-tolerated by human cells even at high concentrations) in a replication-defective adenoviral vector protects macaques.
Editors' Summary
Humans who get infected with Ebola virus develop an illness called Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHV), which is one of the most deadly viral diseases known; 50%–90% of all ill patients die, and there is no available treatment for EHV. Scientists think that the occasional outbreaks of the disease occur because the virus “jumps” from an infected animal to a person (a rare event) and then is transmitted between people by direct contact with infected blood or other body fluids or parts. Several strains or variants of the Ebola virus exist. Most outbreaks have been caused either by the Zaire strain or by the Sudan/Gulu strain (so-called because that is where the particular virus was first isolated). Scientists are working on a vaccine against Ebola that could be given to people before they get infected and then protect them when they come in contact with the virus. A number of candidate vaccines have been developed and tested in animals.
Why Was This Study Done?
The researchers who did this study are working on a vaccine that consists of two particular parts of the virus. One part is called GP (which stands for glycoprotein) and is from the outer coat of the virus; the other, NP (nucleoprotein), is from its inside. Without the rest of the virus, GP and NP cannot cause EBV. However, the hope is that giving these parts of the virus to an individual can educate their immune system to build a response against GP and NP, which would then recognize the virus should the vaccinated person become infected with the whole virus, and destroy it before it can cause disease. To get the GP and NP parts into the body so that they can cause a strong immune response (which is what effective vaccines do), the researchers used a manmade version of another, harmless virus called recombinant adenovirus 5 (or rAd5) to carry the NP and GP. The researchers have shown previously that this strategy for introducing a vaccine works in animals. The vaccine—i.e., the combination of the rAd5 virus and the two Ebola virus parts—can protect animals against subsequent infection with real Ebola virus that would otherwise kill them. However, during these earlier studies, the researchers had noticed that the GP part, when present at high levels, seemed to make human cells sick. They had not seen any similar problems in the experimental animals, but to be on the safe side they decided to see whether they could change the GP part so that it would still be effective as a vaccine but no longer make human cells sick.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
They changed the GP part of the vaccine in different ways so that it would no longer make human cells sick and then tested whether the resulting vaccines (combined with the original NP part and the Ad5 virus) could still protect monkeys from EHF after they were infected with Ebola virus. They found that some of the new GP versions made the vaccine less effective, but others did what they had hoped for; namely, they gave the same level of protection as when the original GP part was present. While doing these experiments, the researchers also found that the NP component seemed unnecessary and in some cases even weakened the vaccine's effect.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The researchers have now developed a simplified vaccine against Ebola virus that is effective in monkeys. This vaccine consists of only a modified GP component (which is well tolerated by human cells even at high concentrations) and the rAd5 component. This vaccine is not the only candidate currently being developed against Ebola, but it seems likely that it is one of a few that will be tested in human volunteers in the near future. The initial clinical trials will test whether the vaccine is safe in humans, and whether it can cause the immune system to produce an immune response that is specific for the Ebola virus. Assuming that the outcomes of these trials are positive, the next question is whether the vaccine can protect humans against Ebola disease. Because Ebola is so dangerous and outbreaks are relatively rare, the vaccine will likely be tested only during an actual outbreak. At that time, an experimental vaccine might be given to people at immediate risk of becoming infected, especially health-care workers who, because they take care of infected patients, are themselves at very high risk of becoming infected. In addition to trials in humans, the scientists will also explore whether this vaccine, which was developed based on the GP component of the Zaire strain, can protect monkeys against infections with other strains of the Ebola virus.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
• World Health Organization
• MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia
• US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
• Wikipedia (note: Wikipedia is a free Internet encyclopedia that anyone can edit)
PMCID: PMC1459482  PMID: 16683867
8.  Successful Topical Respiratory Tract Immunization of Primates against Ebola Virus▿  
Journal of Virology  2007;81(12):6379-6388.
Ebola virus causes outbreaks of severe viral hemorrhagic fever with high mortality in humans. The virus is highly contagious and can be transmitted by contact and by the aerosol route. These features make Ebola virus a potential weapon for bioterrorism and biological warfare. Therefore, a vaccine that induces both systemic and local immune responses in the respiratory tract would be highly beneficial. We evaluated a common pediatric respiratory pathogen, human parainfluenza virus type 3 (HPIV3), as a vaccine vector against Ebola virus. HPIV3 recombinants expressing the Ebola virus (Zaire species) surface glycoprotein (GP) alone or in combination with the nucleocapsid protein NP or with the cytokine adjuvant granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor were administered by the respiratory route to rhesus monkeys—in which HPIV3 infection is mild and asymptomatic—and were evaluated for immunogenicity and protective efficacy against a highly lethal intraperitoneal challenge with Ebola virus. A single immunization with any construct expressing GP was moderately immunogenic against Ebola virus and protected 88% of the animals against severe hemorrhagic fever and death caused by Ebola virus. Two doses were highly immunogenic, and all of the animals survived challenge and were free of signs of disease and of detectable Ebola virus challenge virus. These data illustrate the feasibility of immunization via the respiratory tract against the hemorrhagic fever caused by Ebola virus. To our knowledge, this is the first study in which topical immunization through respiratory tract achieved prevention of a viral hemorrhagic fever infection in a primate model.
PMCID: PMC1900097  PMID: 17428868
9.  Individual and Bivalent Vaccines Based on Alphavirus Replicons Protect Guinea Pigs against Infection with Lassa and Ebola Viruses 
Journal of Virology  2001;75(23):11677-11685.
Lassa and Ebola viruses cause acute, often fatal, hemorrhagic fever diseases, for which no effective vaccines are currently available. Although lethal human disease outbreaks have been confined so far to sub-Saharan Africa, they also pose significant epidemiological concern worldwide as demonstrated by several instances of accidental importation of the viruses into North America and Europe. In the present study, we developed experimental individual vaccines for Lassa virus and bivalent vaccines for Lassa and Ebola viruses that are based on an RNA replicon vector derived from an attenuated strain of Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus. The Lassa and Ebola virus genes were expressed from recombinant replicon RNAs that also encoded the replicase function and were capable of efficient intracellular self-amplification. For vaccinations, the recombinant replicons were incorporated into virus-like replicon particles. Guinea pigs vaccinated with particles expressing Lassa virus nucleoprotein or glycoprotein genes were protected from lethal challenge with Lassa virus. Vaccination with particles expressing Ebola virus glycoprotein gene also protected the animals from lethal challenge with Ebola virus. In order to evaluate a single vaccine protecting against both Lassa and Ebola viruses, we developed dual-expression particles that expressed glycoprotein genes of both Ebola and Lassa viruses. Vaccination of guinea pigs with either dual-expression particles or with a mixture of particles expressing Ebola and Lassa virus glycoprotein genes protected the animals against challenges with Ebola and Lassa viruses. The results showed that immune responses can be induced against multiple vaccine antigens coexpressed from an alphavirus replicon and suggested the possibility of engineering multivalent vaccines based upon alphavirus vectors for arenaviruses, filoviruses, and possibly other emerging pathogens.
PMCID: PMC114754  PMID: 11689649
10.  Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis Virus Replicon Particles Encoding Respiratory Syncytial Virus Surface Glycoproteins Induce Protective Mucosal Responses in Mice and Cotton Rats▿  
Journal of Virology  2007;81(24):13710-13722.
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.
PMCID: PMC2168850  PMID: 17928349
11.  Prediction and identification of mouse cytotoxic T lymphocyte epitopes in Ebola virus glycoproteins 
Virology Journal  2012;9:111.
Ebola viruses (EBOVs) cause severe hemorrhagic fever with a high mortality rate. At present, there are no licensed vaccines or efficient therapies to combat EBOV infection. Previous studies have shown that both humoral and cellular immune responses are crucial for controlling Ebola infection. CD8+ T cells play an important role in mediating vaccine-induced protective immunity. The objective of this study was to identify H-2d-specific T cell epitopes in EBOV glycoproteins (GPs).
Computer-assisted algorithms were used to predict H-2d-specific T cell epitopes in two species of EBOV (Sudan and Zaire) GP. The predicted peptides were synthesized and identified in BALB/c mice immunized with replication-deficient adenovirus vectors expressing the EBOV GP. Enzyme-linked immunospot assays and intracellular cytokine staining showed that the peptides RPHTPQFLF (Sudan EBOV), GPCAGDFAF and LYDRLASTV (Zaire EBOV) could stimulate splenoctyes in immunized mice to produce large amounts of interferon-gamma.
Three peptides within the GPs of two EBOV strains were identified as T cell epitopes. The identification of these epitopes should facilitate the evaluation of vaccines based on the Ebola virus glycoprotein in a BALB/c mouse model.
PMCID: PMC3411508  PMID: 22695180
Ebola virus; T cell epitope; Replication-deficient adenovirus; Computer-assisted algorithms
12.  Recombinant Vesicular Stomatitis Virus–Based Vaccines Against Ebola and Marburg Virus Infections 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2011;204(Suppl 3):S1075-S1081.
The filoviruses, Marburg virus and Ebola virus, cause severe hemorrhagic fever with a high mortality rate in humans and nonhuman primates. Among the most-promising filovirus vaccines under development is a system based on recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus (rVSV) that expresses a single filovirus glycoprotein (GP) in place of the VSV glycoprotein (G). Importantly, a single injection of blended rVSV-based filovirus vaccines was shown to completely protect nonhuman primates against Marburg virus and 3 different species of Ebola virus. These rVSV-based vaccines have also shown utility when administered as a postexposure treatment against filovirus infections, and a rVSV-based Ebola virus vaccine was recently used to treat a potential laboratory exposure. Here, we review the history of rVSV-based vaccines and pivotal animal studies showing their utility in combating Ebola and Marburg virus infections.
PMCID: PMC3218670  PMID: 21987744
13.  Role of Natural Killer Cells in Innate Protection against Lethal Ebola Virus Infection 
Ebola virus is a highly lethal human pathogen and is rapidly driving many wild primate populations toward extinction. Several lines of evidence suggest that innate, nonspecific host factors are potentially critical for survival after Ebola virus infection. Here, we show that nonreplicating Ebola virus-like particles (VLPs), containing the glycoprotein (GP) and matrix protein virus protein (VP)40, administered 1–3 d before Ebola virus infection rapidly induced protective immunity. VLP injection enhanced the numbers of natural killer (NK) cells in lymphoid tissues. In contrast to live Ebola virus, VLP treatment of NK cells enhanced cytokine secretion and cytolytic activity against NK-sensitive targets. Unlike wild-type mice, treatment of NK-deficient or -depleted mice with VLPs had no protective effect against Ebola virus infection and NK cells treated with VLPs protected against Ebola virus infection when adoptively transferred to naive mice. The mechanism of NK cell–mediated protection clearly depended on perforin, but not interferon-γ secretion. Particles containing only VP40 were sufficient to induce NK cell responses and provide protection from infection in the absence of the viral GP. These findings revealed a decisive role for NK cells during lethal Ebola virus infection. This work should open new doors for better understanding of Ebola virus pathogenesis and direct the development of immunotherapeutics, which target the innate immune system, for treatment of Ebola virus infection.
PMCID: PMC2212007  PMID: 15249592
virus-like particles; filoviruses; immunity; matrix protein; glycoprotein
14.  Ebola Virus Glycoprotein Toxicity Is Mediated by a Dynamin-Dependent Protein-Trafficking Pathway 
Journal of Virology  2005;79(1):547-553.
Ebola virus infection causes a highly lethal hemorrhagic fever syndrome associated with profound immunosuppression through its ability to induce widespread inflammation and cellular damage. Though GP, the viral envelope glycoprotein, mediates many of these effects, the molecular events that underlie Ebola virus cytopathicity are poorly understood. Here, we define a cellular mechanism responsible for Ebola virus GP cytotoxicity. GP selectively decreased the expression of cell surface molecules that are essential for cell adhesion and immune function. GP dramatically reduced levels of αVβ3 without affecting the levels of α2β1 or cadherin, leading to cell detachment and death. This effect was inhibited in vitro and in vivo by brefeldin A and was dependent on dynamin, the GTPase. GP also decreased cell surface expression of major histocompatibility complex class I molecules, which alters recognition by immune cells, and this effect was also dependent on the mucin domain previously implicated in GP cytotoxicity. By altering the trafficking of select cellular proteins, Ebola virus GP inflicts cell damage and may facilitate immune escape by the virus.
PMCID: PMC538691  PMID: 15596847
15.  Reverse Genetics Demonstrates that Proteolytic Processing of the Ebola Virus Glycoprotein Is Not Essential for Replication in Cell Culture 
Journal of Virology  2002;76(1):406-410.
Ebola virus, a prime example of an emerging pathogen, causes fatal hemorrhagic fever in humans and in nonhuman primates. Identification of major determinants of Ebola virus pathogenicity has been hampered by the lack of effective strategies for experimental mutagenesis. Here we exploit a reverse genetics system that allows the generation of Ebola virus from cloned cDNA to engineer a mutant Ebola virus with an altered furin recognition motif in the glycoprotein (GP). When expressed in cells, the GP of the wild type, but not of the mutant, virus was cleaved into GP1 and GP2. Although posttranslational furin-mediated cleavage of GP was thought to be an essential step in Ebola virus infection, generation of a viable mutant Ebola virus lacking a furin recognition motif in the GP cleavage site demonstrates that GP cleavage is not essential for replication of Ebola virus in cell culture.
PMCID: PMC135697  PMID: 11739705
16.  An Immunogenic and Protective Alphavirus Replicon Particle-Based Dengue Vaccine Overcomes Maternal Antibody Interference in Weanling Mice▿  
Journal of Virology  2007;81(19):10329-10339.
A candidate pediatric dengue virus (DENV) vaccine based on nonpropagating Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus replicon particles (VRP) was tested for immunogenicity and protective efficacy in weanling mice in the presence and absence of potentially interfering maternal antibodies. A gene cassette encoding envelope proteins prM and E from mouse-adapted DENV type 2 (DENV2) strain NGC was cloned into a VEE replicon vector and packaged into VRP, which programmed proper in vitro expression and processing of DENV2 envelope proteins upon infection of Vero cells. Primary immunization of 3-week-old weanling BALB/c mice in the footpad with DENV2 VRP resulted in high levels of DENV-specific serum immunoglobulin G antibodies and significant titers of neutralizing antibodies in all vaccinates. A booster immunization 12 weeks after the prime immunization resulted in increased neutralizing antibodies that were sustained for at least 30 weeks. Immunization at a range of doses of DENV2 VRP protected mice from an otherwise-lethal intracranial DENV2 challenge. To model vaccination in the presence of maternal antibodies, weanling pups born to DENV2-immune or DENV2-naïve dams were immunized with either DENV2 VRP or live DENV2 given peripherally. The DENV2 VRP vaccine induced neutralizing-antibody responses in young mice regardless of the maternal immune status. In contrast, live-DENV2 vaccination performed poorly in the presence of preexisting anti-DENV2 antibodies. This study demonstrates the feasibility of a VRP vaccine approach as an early-life DENV vaccine in populations with high levels of circulating DENV antibodies and suggests the utility of VRP-based vaccines in other instances where maternal antibodies make early vaccination problematic.
PMCID: PMC2045445  PMID: 17652394
17.  Passive Transfer of Antibodies Protects Immunocompetent and Immunodeficient Mice against Lethal Ebola Virus Infection without Complete Inhibition of Viral Replication 
Journal of Virology  2001;75(10):4649-4654.
Ebola hemorrhagic fever is a severe, usually fatal illness caused by Ebola virus, a member of the filovirus family. The use of nonhomologous immune serum in animal studies and blood from survivors in two anecdotal reports of Ebola hemorrhagic fever in humans has shown promise, but the efficacy of these treatments has not been demonstrated definitively. We have evaluated the protective efficacy of polyclonal immune serum in a mouse model of Ebola virus infection. Our results demonstrate that mice infected subcutaneously with live Ebola virus survive infection and generate high levels of anti-Ebola virus immunoglobulin G (IgG). Passive transfer of immune serum from these mice before challenge protected upto 100% of naive mice against lethal Ebola virus infection. Protection correlated with the level of anti-Ebola virus IgG titers, and passive treatment with high-titer antiserum was associated with a delay in the peak of viral replication. Transfer of immune serum to SCID mice resulted in 100% survival after lethal challenge with Ebola virus, indicating that antibodies alone can protect from lethal disease. Thus antibodies suppress or delay viral growth, provide protection against lethal Ebola virus infection, and may not require participation of other immune components for protection.
PMCID: PMC114218  PMID: 11312335
18.  Effective Post-Exposure Treatment of Ebola Infection  
PLoS Pathogens  2007;3(1):e2.
Ebola viruses are highly lethal human pathogens that have received considerable attention in recent years due to an increasing re-emergence in Central Africa and a potential for use as a biological weapon. There is no vaccine or treatment licensed for human use. In the past, however, important advances have been made in developing preventive vaccines that are protective in animal models. In this regard, we showed that a single injection of a live-attenuated recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus vector expressing the Ebola virus glycoprotein completely protected rodents and nonhuman primates from lethal Ebola challenge. In contrast, progress in developing therapeutic interventions against Ebola virus infections has been much slower and there is clearly an urgent need to develop effective post-exposure strategies to respond to future outbreaks and acts of bioterrorism, as well as to treat laboratory exposures. Here we tested the efficacy of the vesicular stomatitis virus-based Ebola vaccine vector in post-exposure treatment in three relevant animal models. In the guinea pig and mouse models it was possible to protect 50% and 100% of the animals, respectively, following treatment as late as 24 h after lethal challenge. More important, four out of eight rhesus macaques were protected if treated 20 to 30 min following an otherwise uniformly lethal infection. Currently, this approach provides the most effective post-exposure treatment strategy for Ebola infections and is particularly suited for use in accidentally exposed individuals and in the control of secondary transmission during naturally occurring outbreaks or deliberate release.
Author Summary
Being highly pathogenic for humans and monkeys and the subject of former weapons programs makes Ebola virus one of the most feared pathogens worldwide today. Due to a lack of licensed pre- and post-exposure intervention, our current response depends on rapid diagnostics, proper isolation procedures, and supportive care of case patients. Consequently, the development of more specific countermeasures is of high priority for the preparedness of many nations. In this study, we investigated an attenuated vesicular stomatitis virus expressing the Ebola virus surface glycoprotein, which had previously demonstrated convincing efficacy as a vaccine against Ebola infections in rodents and monkeys, for its potential use in the treatment of an Ebola virus infection. Surprisingly, treatment of guinea pigs and mice as late as 24 h after lethal Ebola virus infection resulted in 50% and 100% survival, respectively. More important, 50% of rhesus macaques (4/8) were protected if treated 20 to 30 min after Ebola virus infection. Currently, this approach provides the most effective treatment strategy for Ebola infections and seems particularly suited for the use in accidental exposures and the control of human-to-human transmission during outbreaks.
PMCID: PMC1779298  PMID: 17238284
19.  Ebola Virus Failure to Stimulate Plasmacytoid Dendritic Cell Interferon Responses Correlates With Impaired Cellular Entry 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2011;204(Suppl 3):S973-S977.
We examined the ability of the Ebola virus to elicit an antiviral response from plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs). Exposure of pDCs to Ebola virus did not result in significantly higher levels of interferon-α production than the levels in mock-infected cells. After inoculation with Ebola virus under the same conditions, conventional dendritic cells expressed viral proteins whereas pDCs did not, suggesting that the latter cells were not infected. Assessment of the entry of Ebola virus–like particles into pDCs revealed that pDCs are highly impaired for viral entry in comparison with conventional dendritic cells. These observations identify a novel means by which Ebola virus can avoid triggering an antiviral response.
PMCID: PMC3189990  PMID: 21987778
20.  Protective Role of Cytotoxic T Lymphocytes in Filovirus Hemorrhagic Fever 
Infection with many emerging viruses, such as the hemorrhagic fever disease caused by the filoviruses, Marburg (MARV), and Ebola virus (EBOV), leaves the host with a short timeframe in which to mouse a protective immune response. In lethal cases, uncontrolled viral replication and virus-induced immune dysregulation are too severe to overcome, and mortality is generally associated with a lack of notable immune responses. Vaccination studies in animals have demonstrated an association of IgG and neutralizing antibody responses against the protective glycoprotein antigen with survival from lethal challenge. More recently, studies in animal models of filovirus hemorrhagic fever have established that induction of a strong filovirus-specific cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) response can facilitate complete viral clearance. In this review, we describe assays used to discover CTL responses after vaccination or live filovirus infection in both animal models and human clinical trials. Unfortunately, little data regarding CTL responses have been collected from infected human survivors, primarily due to the low frequency of disease and the inability to perform these studies in the field. Advancements in assays and technologies may allow these studies to occur during future outbreaks.
PMCID: PMC3255346  PMID: 22253531
21.  Replication-Deficient Ebolavirus as a Vaccine Candidate▿  
Journal of Virology  2009;83(8):3810-3815.
Ebolavirus causes severe hemorrhagic fever, with case fatality rates as high as 90%. Currently, no licensed vaccine is available against Ebolavirus. We previously generated a replication-deficient, biologically contained Ebolavirus, EbolaΔVP30, which lacks the essential VP30 gene, grows only in cells stably expressing this gene product, and is genetically stable. Here, we evaluated the vaccine potential of EbolaΔVP30. First, we demonstrated its safety in STAT-1-knockout mice, a susceptible animal model for Ebolavirus infection. We then tested its protective efficacy in two animal models, mice and guinea pigs. Mice immunized twice with EbolaΔVP30 were protected from a lethal infection of mouse-adapted Ebolavirus. Virus titers in the serum of vaccinated mice were significantly lower than those in nonvaccinated mice. Protection of mice immunized with EbolaΔVP30 was associated with a high antibody response to the Ebolavirus glycoprotein and the generation of an Ebolavirus NP-specific CD8+ T-cell response. Guinea pigs immunized twice with EbolaΔVP30 were also protected from a lethal infection of guinea pig-adapted Ebolavirus. Our study demonstrates the potential of the EbolaΔVP30 virus as a new vaccine platform.
PMCID: PMC2663241  PMID: 19211761
22.  Evaluation of Different Strategies for Post-Exposure Treatment of Ebola Virus Infection in Rodents 
Zaire Ebola virus (ZEBOV) is a pathogen that causes severe hemorrhagic fever in humans and non-human primates. There are currently no licensed vaccines or approved treatments available against ZEBOV infections. The goal of this work was to evaluate different treatment strategies in conjunction with a replication deficient, recombinant human adenovirus serotype 5-based vaccine expressing the Zaire Ebola virus glycoprotein (Ad-CAGoptZGP) in Ebola infected mice and guinea pigs.
Guinea pigs were treated with Ad-CAGoptZGP in combination with different treatment strategies after challenge with guinea pig adapted-ZEBOV (GA-ZEBOV). B10.BR mice were used to further characterize efficacy and immune responses following co-administration of Ad-CAGoptZGP with the most effective treatment: AdHu5 expressing recombinant IFN-α (hereafter termed DEF201) after challenge with a lethal dose of mouse adapted-ZEBOV (MA-ZEBOV).
In mice, DEF201 treatment was able to elicit full protection against a lethal dose of MA-ZEBOV when administered 30 minutes after infection. In guinea pigs the Ad-CAGoptZGP and DEF201 combination therapy elicited full protection when treated 30 minutes post-exposure and were a superior treatment to Ad-CAGoptZGP supplemented with recombinant IFN-α protein. Further analysis of the immune response revealed that addition of DEF201 to Ad-CAGoptZGP enhances the resulting adaptive immune response against ZGP. The results highlight the importance of the innate immune response in the prevention of ZEBOV pathogenesis and support further development of the Ad-CAGoptZGP with DEF201 treatment combination for post-exposure therapy against ZEBOV infection.
PMCID: PMC3509938  PMID: 23205319
23.  Vaccine To Confer to Nonhuman Primates Complete Protection against Multistrain Ebola and Marburg Virus Infections▿  
Filoviruses (Ebola and Marburg viruses) are among the deadliest viruses known to mankind, with mortality rates nearing 90%. These pathogens are highly infectious through contact with infected body fluids and can be easily aerosolized. Additionally, there are currently no licensed vaccines available to prevent filovirus outbreaks. Their high mortality rates and infectious capabilities when aerosolized and the lack of licensed vaccines available to prevent such infectious make Ebola and Marburg viruses serious bioterrorism threats, placing them both on the category A list of bioterrorism agents. Here we describe a panfilovirus vaccine based on a complex adenovirus (CAdVax) technology that expresses multiple antigens from five different filoviruses de novo. Vaccination of nonhuman primates demonstrated 100% protection against infection by two species of Ebola virus and three Marburg virus subtypes, each administered at 1,000 times the lethal dose. This study indicates the feasibility of vaccination against all current filovirus threats in the event of natural hemorrhagic fever outbreak or biological attack.
PMCID: PMC2268273  PMID: 18216185
24.  Characterization of Ebola Virus Entry by Using Pseudotyped Viruses: Identification of Receptor-Deficient Cell Lines 
Journal of Virology  1998;72(4):3155-3160.
Studies analyzing Ebola virus replication have been severely hampered by the extreme pathogenicity of this virus. To permit analysis of the host range and function of the Ebola virus glycoprotein (Ebo-GP), we have developed a system for pseudotyping these glycoproteins into murine leukemia virus (MLV). This pseudotyped virus, MLV(Ebola), can be readily concentrated to titers which exceed 5 × 106 infectious units/ml and is effectively neutralized by antibodies specific for Ebo-GP. Analysis of MLV(Ebola) infection revealed that the host range conferred by Ebo-GP is very broad, extending to cells of a variety of species. Notably, all lymphoid cell lines tested were completely resistant to infection; we speculate that this is due to the absence of a cellular receptor for Ebo-GP on B and T cells. The generation of high-titer MLV(Ebola) pseudotypes will be useful for the analysis of immune responses to Ebola virus infection, development of neutralizing antibodies, analysis of glycoprotein function, and isolation of the cellular receptor(s) for the Ebola virus.
PMCID: PMC109772  PMID: 9525641
25.  Advances in Virus-Like Particle Vaccines for Filoviruses 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2011;204(Suppl 3):S1053-S1059.
Ebola virus (EBOV) and Marburg virus (MARV) are among the deadliest human pathogens, with no vaccines or therapeutics available. Multiple vaccine platforms have been tested for efficacy as prophylactic pretreatments or therapeutics for prevention of filovirus hemorrhagic fever. Most successful vaccines are based on a virus-vectored approach expressing the protective glycoprotein (GP); protein-based subunit and DNA vaccines have been tested with moderate success. Virus-like particle (VLP) vaccines have realized promising results when tested in both rodents and nonhuman primates. VLPs rely on the natural properties of the viral matrix protein (VP) 40 to drive budding of filamentous particles that can also incorporate ≥1 other filovirus protein, including GP, VP24, and nucleoprotein (NP). Filovirus VLP vaccines have used particles containing 2 or 3 (GP and VP40, with or without NP) viral proteins generated in either mammalian or insect cells. Early studies successfully demonstrated efficacy of bivalent VLP vaccines in rodents; more recent studies have shown the ability of the VLP vaccines containing GP, NP, and VP40 to confer complete homologous protection against Ebola virus and Marburg virus in a prophylactic setting against in macaques. This review will discuss published work to date regarding development of the VLP vaccines for prevention of lethal filovirus hemorrhagic fever.
PMCID: PMC3189993  PMID: 21987741

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