Novel vaccine against Venezuelan equine encephalitis combines advantages of DNA immunization and a live attenuated vaccine

Irina Tretyakova, Igor S. Lukashevich, Pamela Glass, Eryu Wang, Scott Weaver, Peter Pushko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


DNA vaccines combine remarkable genetic and chemical stability with proven safety and efficacy in animal models, while remaining less immunogenic in humans. In contrast, live-attenuated vaccines have the advantage of inducing rapid, robust, long-term immunity after a single-dose vaccination. Here we describe novel iDNA vaccine technology that is based on an infectious DNA platform and combines advantages of DNA and live attenuated vaccines. We applied this technology for vaccination against infection with Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV), an alphavirus from the Togaviridae family. The iDNA vaccine is based on transcription of the full-length genomic RNA of the TC-83 live-attenuated virus from plasmid DNA in vivo. The in vivo-generated viral RNA initiates limited replication of the vaccine virus, which in turn leads to efficient immunization. This technology allows the plasmid DNA to launch a live-attenuated vaccine in vitro or in vivo. Less than 10. ng of pTC83 iDNA encoding the full-length genomic RNA of the TC-83 vaccine strain initiated replication of the vaccine virus in vitro. In order to evaluate this approach in vivo, BALB/c mice were vaccinated with a single dose of pTC83 iDNA. After vaccination, all mice seroconverted with no adverse reactions. Four weeks after immunization, animals were challenged with the lethal epidemic strain of VEEV. All iDNA-vaccinated mice were protected from fatal disease, while all unvaccinated controls succumbed to infection and died. To our knowledge, this is the first example of launching a clinical live-attenuated vaccine from recombinant plasmid DNA in vivo.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1019-1025
Number of pages7
Issue number7
StatePublished - Feb 4 2013


  • DNA vaccine
  • Infectious DNA
  • Live attenuated virus
  • TC-83
  • VEE
  • Venezuelan equine encephalitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Veterinary
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases


Dive into the research topics of 'Novel vaccine against Venezuelan equine encephalitis combines advantages of DNA immunization and a live attenuated vaccine'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this