Varicella-zoster virus (VZV) is an attractive candidate for a live-virus vector for the delivery of foreign antigens. The Oka vaccine strain of VZV is safe and effective in humans, and recombinant Oka VZV (ROka) can be generated by transfecting cells with a set of overlapping cosmid DNAs. By this method, the herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) glycoprotein D (gD2) gene was inserted into an intergenic site in the unique short region of the Oka VZV genome. Expression of gD2 in cells infected with the recombinant Oka strain VZV (ROka-gD2) was confirmed by antibody staining of fixed cells and by immunoblot analysis. Immune electron microscopy demonstrated the presence of gD2 in the envelope of ROka-gD2 virions. The ability of ROka-gD2 to protect guinea pigs against HSV-2 challenge was assessed by inoculating animals with three doses of uninfected human fibroblasts, fibroblasts infected with ROka VZV, or fibroblasts infected with ROka-gD2. Neutralizing antibodies specific for HSV-2 developed in animals immunized with ROka-gD2. Forty days after the third inoculation, animals were challenged intravaginally with HSV-2. Inoculation of guinea pigs with ROka-gD2 significantly reduced the severity of primary HSV-2 infection (P < 0.001). These experiments demonstrate that the Oka strain of VZV can be used as a live virus vector to protect animals from disease with a heterologous virus.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science