Recombinant Sindbis/Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus is highly attenuated and immunogenic

Slobodan Paessler, Rafik Z. Fayzulin, Michael Anishchenko, Ivorlyne P. Greene, Scott C. Weaver, Ilya Frolov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

76 Scopus citations

Abstract

Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV) is an important, naturally emerging zoonotic virus. VEEV was a significant human and equine pathogen for much of the past century, and recent outbreaks in Venezuela and Colombia (1995), with about 100,000 human cases, indicate that this virus still poses a serious public health threat. The live attenuated TC-83 vaccine strain of VEEV was developed in the 1960s using a traditional approach of serial passaging in tissue culture of the virulent Trinidad donkey (TrD) strain. This vaccine presents several problems, including adverse, sometimes severe reactions in many human vaccinees. The TC-83 strain also retains residual murine virulence and is lethal for suckling mice after intracerebral (i.c.) or subcutaneous (s.c.) inoculation. To overcome these negative effects, we developed a recombinant, chimeric Sindbis/VEE virus (SIN-83) that is more highly attenuated. The genome of this virus encoded the replicative enzymes and the cis-acting RNA elements derived from Sindbis virus (SINV), one of the least human-pathogenic alphaviruses. The structural proteins were derived from VEEV TC-83. The SIN-83 virus, which contained an additional adaptive mutation in the nsP2 gene, replicated efficiently in common cell lines and did not cause detectable disease in adult or suckling mice after either i.c. or s.c. inoculation. However, SIN-83-vaccinated mice were efficiently protected against challenge with pathogenic strains of VEEV. Our findings suggest that the use of the SINV genome as a vector for expression of structural proteins derived from more pathogenic, encephalitic alphaviruses is a promising strategy for alphavirus vaccine development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9278-9286
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of virology
Volume77
Issue number17
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology

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