Recombinant chimeric Japanese encephalitis virus/tick-borne encephalitis virus is attenuated and protective in mice
Wang, H.-J.; Li, X.-F.; Ye, Q.; Li, S.-H.; Deng, Y.-Q.; Zhao, H.; Xu, Y.-P.; Ma, J.; Qin, E.-D.; Qin, C.-F.
Vaccine 32(8): 949-956
Tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV) represents one of the most dangerous human pathogens circulating in Europe and East Asia. No effective treatment for TBEV infection currently exists, and vaccination is the primary preventive measure. Although several inactivated vaccines have been licensed, the development of novel vaccines against TBEV remains a high priority in disease-endemic countries. In the present study, a live chimeric recombinant TBEV (ChinTBEV) was created by substituting the major structural genes of TBEV for the corresponding regions of Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) live vaccine strain SA14-14-2. The resulting chimera had a small-plaque phenotype, replicated efficiently in both mammalian and mosquito cells. The preliminary data from in vitro passaging indicated the potential for stability of ChinTBEV. ChinTBEV also exhibited significantly attenuated neuroinvasiveness in mice upon either intraperitoneal or subcutaneous inoculation in comparison with its parental TBEV. Importantly, a single immunisation with ChinTBEV elicited TBEV-specific IgG and neutralising antibody responses in a dose-dependent manner, providing significant protection against lethal TBEV challenge in mice. Taken together, the results of this proof-of-concept study indicate that ChinTBEV can be further developed as a potential vaccine candidate against TBEV infection. Moreover, the construction of this type of flavivirus chimera using a JEV vaccine strain as the genetic backbone represents a universal vaccine approach.