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J Gen Virol. 1996 Jun;77 ( Pt 6):1287-94.

Protective immune responses to the E and NS1 proteins of Murray Valley encephalitis virus in hybrids of flavivirus-resistant mice.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, University of Western Australia, Nedlands, Australia.


The lack of an effective animal model has been a major obstacle in attempts to define the role of humoral and cellular immune responses in protection against flavivirus infection. We have used F1 hybrid mice (BALB/c x C3H/RV) that are heterozygous for the flavivirus resistance allele F1vr and show reduced virus replication in the brain after intracerebral inoculation. F1 hybrid mice challenged by intracerebral inoculation with Murray Valley encephalitis (MVE) virus developed encephalitis 2-3 days later than a genetically susceptible strain (BALB/c) but showed a similar mortality rate. This delay in the onset of disease provided more opportunity for virus clearance by primed immune responses. Using F1 hybrid mice we were able to demonstrate protective immunity induced by structural and non-structural proteins of MVE virus by immunization with pure NS1 protein or recombinant vaccinia viruses that expressed various regions of the MVE genome. These constructs included VV-STR (C-prM-E-NS1-NS2A), VV-delta C (prM-E-Ns1-NS2A) and VV-NS1 (NS1-NS2A). VV-delta C vaccinated mice were completely protected (100% survival)from challenge with 1000 infectious units of MVE virus, while mice inoculated with VV-STR, VV-NS1 or pure NS1 were partially protected (40%, 47% and 85% respectively). Analysis of prechallenge sera and in vivo depletion studies revealed that the solid protection induced by VV-delta C was mediated by neutralizing antibody to the E protein and did not require a CD8+ T cell response. The partial protection provided by VV-STR, VV-NS1 and pure NS1 occurred after induction of antibody to NS1. However, depletion of CD8+ cells prior to virus challenge ablated the protection provided by VV-NS1 indicating some requirement for class I restricted cytotoxic T cells.

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