We previously developed a gene-based vaccine, termed 4pox, which targets four orthopoxvirus proteins (A33, L1, B5, and A27). Because any subunit orthopoxvirus vaccine must protect against multiple species of orthopoxviruses, we are interested in understanding the cross-protective potential of our 4pox vaccine target immunogens. In our current studies, we focused on the A33 immunogen. We found one monoclonal antibody against A33, MAb-1G10, which could not bind the monkeypox virus A33 ortholog, A35. MAb-1G10 binding could be rescued if A35 amino acids 118 and 120 were substituted with those from A33. MAb-1G10 has been shown to protect mice from VACV challenge, thus our findings indicated a protective epitope differs among orthopoxviruses. Accordingly, we tested the cross-protective efficacy of a DNA vaccine consisting of A35R against VACV challenge and compared it to vaccination with A33R DNA. Mice vaccinated with A35R had greater mortality and more weight loss compared to those vaccinated with A33R. These findings demonstrate that despite high homology between A33R orthologs, amino acid differences can impact cross-protection. Furthermore, our results caution that adequate cross-protection by any pan-orthopoxvirus subunit vaccine will require not only careful evaluation of cross-protective immunity, but also of targeting of multiple orthopoxvirus immunogens.
Golden, J. W., & Hooper, J. W. (2008). Heterogeneity in the A33 protein impacts the cross-protective efficacy of a candidate smallpox DNA vaccine. Virology, 377(1), 19–29. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.virol.2008.04.003