Attenuated yellow fever (YF) virus 17D/17DD vaccines are the only available protection from YF infection, which remains a significant source of morbidity and mortality in the tropical areas of the world. The attenuated YF virus vaccine, which is used worldwide, generates both long-lasting neutralizing antibodies and strong T-cell responses. However, on rare occasions, this vaccine has toxic side effects that can be fatal. This study presents the design of two non-viral DNA-based antigen formulations and the characterization of their expression and immunological properties. The two antigen formulations consist of DNA encoding the full-length envelope protein (p/YFE) or the full-length envelope protein fused to the lysosomal-associated membrane protein signal, LAMP-1 (pL/YFE), aimed at diverting antigen processing/presentation through the major histocompatibility complex II precursor compartments. The immune responses triggered by these formulations were evaluated in H2b and H2d backgrounds, corresponding to the C57Bl/6 and BALB/c mice strains, respectively. Both DNA constructs were able to induce very strong T-cell responses of similar magnitude against almost all epitopes that are also generated by the YF 17DD vaccine. The pL/YFE formulation performed best overall. In addition to the T-cell response, it was also able to stimulate high titers of anti-YF neutralizing antibodies comparable to the levels elicited by the 17DD vaccine. More importantly, the pL/YFE vaccine conferred 100% protection against the YF virus in intracerebrally challenged mice. These results indicate that pL/YFE DNA is an excellent vaccine candidate and should be considered for further developmental studies.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Infectious Diseases