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An Alphavirus Replicon-Derived Candidate Vaccine against Rift Valley Fever Virus

M. T. Heise, A. Whitmore, J. Thompson, M. Parsons, A. A. Grobbelaar, A. Kemp, J. T. Paweska, K. Madric, L. J. White, R. Swanepoel and F. J. Burt
Epidemiology and Infection
Vol. 137, No. 9 (Sep., 2009), pp. 1309-1318
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40272158
Page Count: 10
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An Alphavirus Replicon-Derived Candidate Vaccine against Rift Valley Fever Virus
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Abstract

Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV) is a mosquito-transmitted bunyavirus (genus Phlebovirus) associated with severe disease in livestock and fatal encephalitis or haemorrhagic fever in a proportion of infected humans. Although live attenuated and inactivated vaccines have been used in livestock, and on a limited scale in humans, there is a need for improved anti-RVFV vaccines. Towards this goal, Sindbis virus replicon vectors expressing the RVFV Gn and Gc glycoproteins, as well as the non-structural nsM protein, were constructed and evaluated for their ability to induce protective immune responses against RVFV. These replicon vectors were shown to produce the RVFV glycoproteins to high levels in vitro and to induce systemic anti-RVFV antibody responses in immunized mice, as determined by RVFV-specific ELISA, fluorescent antibody tests, and demonstration of a neutralizing antibody response. Replicon vaccination also provided 100% protection against lethal RVFV challenge by either the intraperitoneal or intranasal route. Furthermore, preliminary results indicate that the replicon vectors elicit RVFV-specific neutralizing antibody responses in vaccinated sheep. These results suggest that alphavirus-based replicon vectors can induce protective immunity against RVFV, and that this approach merits further investigation into its potential utility as a RVFV vaccine.

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