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Clin Vaccine Immunol. 2009 Jan;16(1):73-7. doi: 10.1128/CVI.00261-08. Epub 2008 Nov 5.

Humoral and cellular immune responses induced by 3a DNA vaccines against severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) or SARS-like coronavirus in mice.

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  • 1State Key Laboratory of Virology, Wuhan Institute of Virology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Wuhan 430071, People's Republic of China.


Vaccine development for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) has mainly focused on the spike (S) protein. However, the variation of the S gene between viruses may affect the efficacy of a vaccine, particularly for cross-protection against SARS-like CoV (SL-CoV). Recently, a more conserved group-specific open reading frame (ORF), the 3a gene, was found in both SARS-CoV and SL-CoV. Here, we studied the immunogenicity of human SARS-CoV 3a and bat SL-CoV 3a DNA vaccines in mice through electroporation immunization followed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent, enzyme-linked immunospot, and flow cytometry assays. Our results showed that high levels of specific humoral responses were induced by SARS-CoV 3a and SL-CoV 3a DNA vaccines. Furthermore, a strong Th1-based cellular immune response was stimulated by both DNA vaccines. The vaccines stimulated gamma interferon production mainly by CD8(+) T cells and interleukin-2 (IL-2) mainly by CD4(+) T cells. Of interest, the frequency of IL-2-positive cells elicited by the SARS-CoV 3a DNA vaccine was significantly higher than that elicited by the SL-CoV 3a DNA vaccine. In summary, our study provides a reference for designing cross-protective DNA vaccines based on the group-specific ORFs of CoVs.

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