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Recombinant lipidated Zika virus envelope protein domain III elicits durable neutralizing antibody responses against Zika virus in mice

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Abstract

Background: The emergence of Zika virus (ZV) in tropical and subtropical areas of the world has created an urgent need for vaccines against ZV. However, approved vaccines that prevent ZV infection are not available. To develop an effective vaccine against ZV infection, a lipidated form of ZV envelope protein domain III that possesses an intrinsic adjuvant property was rationally designed. Our goal was to examine the immunogenicity of recombinant lipidated ZV envelope protein domain III (rLZE3) and evaluate its potential as a vaccine candidate against ZV. Methods: Recombinant ZV envelope protein domain III (rZE3) and rLZE3 were prepared with an Escherichia coli-based system. Dendritic cell surface marker expression and cytokine production upon stimulation were analyzed to evaluate the function of rLZE3. Neutralizing antibody capacities were evaluated using focus reduction neutralization tests after immunization. To investigate the protective immunity in immunized mice, serum samples collected from immunized mice were adoptively transferred into AG129 mice, and then viremia levels and survival times were examined after ZV challenge. Results: rLZE3 alone but not rZE3 alone efficiently activated dendritic cells in vitro and was taken up by dendritic cells in vivo. Immunization of C57BL/6 mice with rLZE3 alone (without exogenous adjuvant) could induce ZV-specific neutralizing antibody responses. Furthermore, serum samples obtained from rLZE3-immunized mice provided protection as indicated by a reduction in viremia levels and prolongation of survival times after ZV challenge. Conclusion: These results indicate that rLZE3 is an excellent vaccine candidate and has great potential that should be evaluated in further preclinical studies.

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Chen, M. Y., Chai, K. M., Chiang, C. Y., Wu, C. C., Yu, G. Y., Liu, S. J., & Chen, H. W. (2020). Recombinant lipidated Zika virus envelope protein domain III elicits durable neutralizing antibody responses against Zika virus in mice. Journal of Biomedical Science, 27(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12929-020-00646-x

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