Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV), belonging to the genus Phlebovirus, family Bunyaviridae, is endemic to sub-Saharan Africa and causes a high rate of abortion in ruminants and hemorrhagic fever, encephalitis, or blindness in humans. MP-12 is the only RVFV strain excluded from the select-agent rule and handled at a biosafety level 2 (BSL2) laboratory. MP-12 encodes a functional major virulence factor, the NSs protein, which contributes to its residual virulence in pregnant ewes. We found that 100% of mice subcutaneously vaccinated with recombinant MP-12 (rMP12)-murine PKRN167 (mPKRN167), which encodes a dominant-negative form of mouse double-stranded RNA (dsRNA)-dependent protein kinase (PKR) in place of NSs, were protected from wild-type (wt) RVFV challenge, while 72% of mice vaccinated with MP-12 were protected after challenge. rMP12-mPKRN167 induced alpha interferon (IFN-α) in sera, accumulated RVFV antigens in dendritic cells at the local draining lymph nodes, and developed high levels of neutralizing antibodies, while parental MP-12 induced neither IFN-α nor viral-antigen accumulation at the draining lymph node yet induced a high level of neutralizing antibodies. The present study suggests that the expression of a dominant-negative PKR increases the immunogenicity and efficacy of live-attenuated RVFV vaccine, which will lead to rational design of safe and highly immunogenic RVFV vaccines for livestock and humans.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science