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Virology. 2007 Jun 20;363(1):59-68. Epub 2007 Feb 22.

Immunogenicity of papaya mosaic virus-like particles fused to a hepatitis C virus epitope: evidence for the critical function of multimerization.

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Centre de Recherche en Infectiologie, Pavillon CHUL, Université Laval, 2705 boul. Laurier, Québec, PQ, Canada.


Plant-virus-based vaccines have emerged as a promising avenue in vaccine development. This report describes the engineering of an innovative vaccine platform using the papaya mosaic virus (PapMV) capsid protein (CP) as a carrier protein and a C-terminal fused hepatitis C virus (HCV) E2 epitope as the immunogenic target. Two antigen organizations of the PapMV-based vaccines were tested: a virus-like-particle (VLP; PapMVCP-E2) and a monomeric form (PapMVCP(27-215)-E2). While the two forms of the vaccine were both shown to be actively internalized in vitro in bone-marrow-derived antigen presenting cells (APCs), immunogenicity was demonstrated to be strongly dependent on antigen organization. Indeed, C3H/HeJ mice injected twice with the multimeric VLP vaccine showed a long-lasting humoral response (more than 120 days) against both the CP and the fused HCV E2 epitope. The antibody profile (production of IgG1, IgG2a, IgG2b, IgG3) suggests a Th1/Th2 response. Immunogenicity of the PapMV vaccine platform was not observed when the monomer PapMVCP-E2 was injected. These results demonstrate for the first time the potential of the PapMV vaccine platform and the critical function of multimerization in its immunogenicity.

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