DNA vaccination protects mice against Zika virus-induced damage to the testes

Bryan D. Griffin, Kar Muthumani, Bryce M. Warner, Anna Majer, Mable Hagan, Jonathan Audet, Derek R. Stein, Charlene Ranadheera, Trina Racine, Marc Antoine De La Vega, Jocelyne Piret, Stephanie Kucas, Kaylie N. Tran, Kathy L. Frost, Christine De Graff, Geoff Soule, Leanne Scharikow, Jennifer Scott, Gordon McTavish, Valerie SmidYoung K. Park, Joel N. Maslow, Niranjan Y. Sardesai, J. Joseph Kim, Xiao Jian Yao, Alexander Bello, Robbin Lindsay, Guy Boivin, Stephanie A. Booth, Darwyn Kobasa, Carissa Embury-Hyatt, David Safronetz, David B. Weiner, Gary P. Kobinger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


Zika virus (ZIKV) is an emerging pathogen causally associated with serious sequelae in fetuses, inducing fetal microcephaly and other neurodevelopment defects. ZIKV is primarily transmitted by mosquitoes, but can persist in human semen and sperm, and sexual transmission has been documented. Moreover, exposure of type-I interferon knockout mice to ZIKV results in severe damage to the testes, epididymis and sperm. Candidate ZIKV vaccines have shown protective efficacy in preclinical studies carried out in animal models, and several vaccines have entered clinical trials. Here, we report that administration of a synthetic DNA vaccine encoding ZIKV pre-membrane and envelope (prME) completely protects mice against ZIKV-associated damage to the testes and sperm and prevents viral persistence in the testes following challenge with a contemporary strain of ZIKV. These data suggest that DNA vaccination merits further investigation as a potential means to reduce ZIKV persistence in the male reproductive tract.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number15743
JournalNature communications
StatePublished - Jun 7 2017
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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