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Antiviral Res. 2013 Mar;97(3):227-31. doi: 10.1016/j.antiviral.2012.12.028. Epub 2013 Jan 4.

Protective immune responses in rabbits induced by a suicidal DNA vaccine of the VP60 gene of rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus.

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Shanghai Veterinary Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, 200241 Shanghai, China.


A suicidal DNA vaccine based on a Semliki Forest virus (SFV) replicon was evaluated for the development of a vaccine against rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus (RHDV). The VP60 gene of RHDV was cloned and inserted into pSCA1, an SFV DNA-based replicon vector. The resultant plasmid, pSCA/VP60, was transfected into BHK-21 cells, and the antigenicity of the expressed protein was confirmed using indirect immunofluorescence and a western blot assay. In addition, immunogenicity was studied in rabbits. Fifteen rabbits were injected intramuscularly twice with pSCA/VP60 at 2-week intervals. They were challenged with an RHDV isolate 2weeks after the second immunization. In all cases, anti-RHDV antibodies were detected by ELISA. Additionally, the lymphocyte proliferation response was tested by the 3-(4,5-dimethyl-2-thiazolyl)-2,5-diphenyl-2H-tetrazolium bromide method, and neutralizing antibodies were measured by microneutralization tests. Our results showed that RHDV-specific antibodies and an RHDV-specific cell-mediated immune response were strongly induced in rabbits. Furthermore, all of the rabbits were protected against challenge with wild type RHDV. In conclusion, we demonstrated that the suicidal DNA vaccine is a promising vaccine candidate that facilitates the prevention of rabbit hemorrhagic disease caused by RHDV.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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