Characterization of Rift Valley Fever Virus MP-12 Strain Encoding NSs of Punta Toro Virus or Sandfly Fever Sicilian Virus

Olga A. Lihoradova, Sabarish V. Indran, Birte Kalveram, Nandadeva Lokugamage, Jennifer A. Head, Bin Gong, Bersabeh Tigabu, Terry L. Juelich, Alexander N. Freiberg, Tetsuro Ikegami

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28 Scopus citations


Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV; genus Phlebovirus, family Bunyaviridae) is a mosquito-borne zoonotic pathogen which can cause hemorrhagic fever, neurological disorders or blindness in humans, and a high rate of abortion in ruminants. MP-12 strain, a live-attenuated candidate vaccine, is attenuated in the M- and L-segments, but the S-segment retains the virulent phenotype. MP-12 was manufactured as an Investigational New Drug vaccine by using MRC-5 cells and encodes a functional NSs gene, the major virulence factor of RVFV which 1) induces a shutoff of the host transcription, 2) inhibits interferon (IFN)-β promoter activation, and 3) promotes the degradation of dsRNA-dependent protein kinase (PKR). MP-12 lacks a marker for differentiation of infected from vaccinated animals (DIVA). Although MP-12 lacking NSs works for DIVA, it does not replicate efficiently in type-I IFN-competent MRC-5 cells, while the use of type-I IFN-incompetent cells may negatively affect its genetic stability. To generate modified MP-12 vaccine candidates encoding a DIVA marker, while still replicating efficiently in MRC-5 cells, we generated recombinant MP-12 encoding Punta Toro virus Adames strain NSs (rMP12-PTNSs) or Sandfly fever Sicilian virus NSs (rMP12-SFSNSs) in place of MP-12 NSs. We have demonstrated that those recombinant MP-12 viruses inhibit IFN-β mRNA synthesis, yet do not promote the degradation of PKR. The rMP12-PTNSs, but not rMP12-SFSNSs, replicated more efficiently than recombinant MP-12 lacking NSs in MRC-5 cells. Mice vaccinated with rMP12-PTNSs or rMP12-SFSNSs induced neutralizing antibodies at a level equivalent to those vaccinated with MP-12, and were efficiently protected from wild-type RVFV challenge. The rMP12-PTNSs and rMP12-SFSNSs did not induce antibodies cross-reactive to anti-RVFV NSs antibody and are therefore applicable to DIVA. Thus, rMP12-PTNSs is highly efficacious, replicates efficiently in MRC-5 cells, and encodes a DIVA marker, all of which are important for vaccine development for Rift Valley fever.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2181
JournalPLoS neglected tropical diseases
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases


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