West Nile virus (WNV) causes potentially fatal neuroinvasive disease and persists at endemic levels in many parts of the world. Despite advances in our understanding of WNV pathogenesis, there remains a significant need for a human vaccine. The domain III (DIII) region of the WNV envelope protein contains epitopes that are the target of neutralizing antibodies. We have constructed a chimeric fusion of the non-toxic cholera toxin (CT) CTA2/B domains to DIII for investigation as a novel mucosally-delivered WNV vaccine. Purification and assembly of the chimera, as well as receptor-binding and antigen delivery, were verified by western blot, GM1 ELISA and confocal microscopy. Groups of BALB/c mice were immunized intranasally with DIII-CTA2/B, DIII, DIII mixed with CTA2/B, or CTA2/B control, and boosted at 10 days. Analysis of serum IgG after 14 and 45 days revealed that mucosal immunization with DIII-CTA2/B induced significant DIII-specific humoral immunity and drove isotype switching to IgG2a. The DIII-CTA2/B chimera also induced antigen-specific IgM and IgA responses. Bactericidal assays indicate that the DIII-CTA2/B immunized mice produced DIII-specific antibodies that can trigger complement-mediated killing. A dose escalation resulted in increased DIII-specific serum IgG titers on day 45. DIII antigen alone, in the absence of adjuvant, also induced significant systemic responses after intranasal delivery. Our results indicate that the DIII-CTA2/B chimera is immunogenic after intranasal delivery and merits further investigation as a novel WNV vaccine candidate. © 2014 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.
Tinker, J. K., Yan, J., Knippel, R. J., Panayiotou, P., & Cornell, K. A. (2014). Immunogenicity of a west nile virus DIII-cholera toxin A2/B chimera after intranasal delivery. Toxins, 6(4), 1397–1418. https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins6041397