Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV) (genus Phlebovirus, family Bunyaviridae) is an arbovirus that causes severe disease in humans and livestock in sub-Saharan African countries. Although the MP-12 strain of RVFV is a live attenuated vaccine candidate, neuroinvasiveness and neurovirulence of MP-12 in mice may be a concern when vaccinating certain individuals, especially those that are immunocompromised. We have developed a novel, single-cycle replicable MP-12 (scMP-12), which carries an L RNA, M RNA mutant encoding a mutant envelope protein lacking an endoplasmic reticulum retrieval signal and defective for membrane fusion function, and S RNA encoding N protein and green fluorescent protein. The scMP-12 underwent efficient amplification, then formed plaques and retained the introduced mutation after serial passages in a cell line stably expressing viral envelope proteins. However, inoculation of the scMP-12 into naïve cells resulted in a single round of viral replication, and production of low levels of noninfectious virus-like particles. Intracranial inoculation of scMP-12 into suckling mice did not cause clinical signs or death, a finding which demonstrated that the scMP-12 lacked neurovirulence. Mice immunized with a single dose of scMP-12 produced neutralizing antibodies, whose titers were higher than in mice immunized with replicon particles carrying L RNA and S RNA encoding N protein and green fluorescent protein. Moreover, 90% of the scMP-12-immunized mice were protected from wild-type RVFV challenge by efficiently suppressing viremia and replication of the challenge virus in the liver and the spleen. These data demonstrated that scMP-12 is a safe and immunogenic RVFV vaccine candidate.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Infectious Diseases