We have generated replication-competent (VSV-C/E1/E2) and nonpropagating (VSVΔG-C/E1/E2) vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) contiguously expressing the structural proteins of hepatitis C virus (HCV; core [C] and glycoproteins E1 and E2) and report on their immunogenicity in murine models. VSV-C/E1/E2 and VSVΔG-C/E1/E2 expressed high levels of HCV C, E1, and E2, which were authentically posttranslationally processed. Both VSV-expressed HCV E1-E2 glycoproteins were found to form noncovalently linked heterodimers and appeared to be correctly folded, as confirmed by coimmunoprecipitation analysis using conformationally sensitive anti-HCV-E2 monoclonal antibodies (MAbs). Intravenous or intraperitoneal immunization of BALB/c mice with VSV-C/E1/E2 or VSVΔG-C/E1/E2 resulted in significant and surprisingly comparable HCV core or E2 antibody responses compared to those of control mice. In addition, both virus types generated HCV C-, E1-, or E2-specific gamma interferon (IFN-γ)-producing CD8+ T cells, as determined by enzyme-linked immunospot (ELISPOT) analysis. Mice immunized with VSVΔG-C/E1/E2 were also protected against the formation of tumors expressing HCV E2 (CT26-hghE2t) and exhibited CT26-hghE2t-speciftc IFN-γ/-producing and E2-specific CD8 + T-cell activity. Finally, recombinant vaccinia virus (wHCV.S) expressing the HCV structural proteins replicated at significantly lower levels when inoculated into mice immunized with VSV-C/E1/E2 or VSVAG-C/E1/E2, but not with control viruses. Our data therefore illustrate that potentially safer replication-defective VSV can be successfully engineered to express high levels of antigenically authentic HCV glycoproteins. In addition, this strategy may therefore serve in effective vaccine and immunotherapy-based approaches to the treatment of HCV-related disease.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science