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Virus Res. 2007 Apr;125(1):69-78. Epub 2007 Jan 22.

Live-attenuated recombinant equine herpesvirus type 1 (EHV-1) induces a neutralizing antibody response against West Nile virus (WNV).

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.


The immunogenicity in horses of a recombinant equine herpesvirus type 1 (EHV-1) vaccine expressing West Nile virus (WNV) prM and E proteins was studied. To construct the recombinant EHV-1, two-step en passant mutagenesis was employed for manipulation of a bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) of vaccine strain RacH. Recombinant EHV-1 stably expressed the WNV prM and E proteins as demonstrated by indirect immunofluorescence and Western blotting. In addition, growth properties in vitro of the EHV-1/WNV recombinant were found to not be significantly different from those of the parental virus. To determine if vaccination of horses induces an antibody response, 10 horses were allocated in two groups. Group A consisted of six horses that were vaccinated three times with the recombinant EHV-1/WNV virus in 28- to 31-day intervals. Group B consisted of four horses that were sham-vaccinated using the same regimen. Serum was collected on days 0, 31, 45 and 66. Plaque reduction neutralization test and IgG(T)- and IgGb-specific WNV E antibody-capture ELISAs were used. After a single vaccination (day 31), at least four of the six horses from group A had detectable levels of serum neutralizing antibodies against WNV, and three horses retained SN titers until the end of the study. None of the horses in the control group B sero-converted. On days 31 and 45, five of the six horses in group A had a marked increase of WNV-specific IgG(T), and at least four exhibited modestly elevated WNV-specific IgGb titers. From the results, we concluded that the EHV-1 vectored virus is able to express the WNV structural proteins and that vaccination of horses results in the induction of WNV E-protein-specific IgG(T), IgGb, and neutralizing antibodies.

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