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J Med Virol. 2015 Dec;87(12):2090-7. doi: 10.1002/jmv.24277. Epub 2015 Jun 12.

Enhancement of immune response to a hepatitis C virus E2 DNA vaccine by an immunoglobulin Fc fusion tag.

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Department of Pathogen Biology, School of Medicine, Nantong University, Nantong, Jiangsu, People's Republic of China.
State Key Laboratory of Virology, Wuhan Institute of Virology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Wuhan, People's Republic of China.


Neutralizing antibodies and cellular immune response both play essential roles in the clearance of Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. The envelope glycoprotein E2 is a major target for producing neutralizing antibodies against HCV. Here, we constructed a recombinant plasmid, termed pcDNA3.1-E2-Fc, to express HCV E2 with an immunoglobulin Fc fusion tag (E2-Fc). Importantly, we found that the titers of E2-specific IgG from mice immunized with pcDNA3.1-E2-Fc were significantly higher than that from mice immunized with pcDNA3.1-E2. Moreover, pcDNA3.1-E2-Fc immunization could boost E2-specific lymphocyte proliferation and enhance the secretion of IFN-γ by lymphocytes upon in vitro stimulation with soluble E2 compared to pcDNA3.1-E2 immunization. Neutralization assays showed that serum from pcDNA3.1-E2-Fc immunized mice exhibited more effective neutralizing capacity of HCVpp entry into Huh-7 cells compared with that from pcDNA3.1-E2 immunized mice, although both of the sera could inhibit the virus entry. Taken together, our results imply that pcDNA3.1-E2-Fc immunization could enhance E2-specific humoral and cellular immune response in mice and thus provide a promising candidate for the development of an HCV vaccine.


E2 antigen; cellular immunity; hepatitis C virus; humoral immunity; immunogloblin Fc fragment

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