Recombinant chimeric yellow fever-dengue type 2 virus is immunogenic and protective in nonhuman primates

F Guirakhoo, R Weltzin, T J Chambers, Z X Zhang, K Soike, M Ratterree, J Arroyo, K Georgakopoulos, J Catalan, T P Monath
Journal of Virology 2000, 74 (12): 5477-85
A chimeric yellow fever (YF)-dengue type 2 (dengue-2) virus (ChimeriVax-D2) was constructed using a recombinant cDNA infectious clone of a YF vaccine strain (YF 17D) as a backbone into which we inserted the premembrane (prM) and envelope (E) genes of dengue-2 virus (strain PUO-218 from a case of dengue fever in Bangkok, Thailand). The chimeric virus was recovered from the supernatant of Vero cells transfected with RNA transcripts and amplified once in these cells to yield a titer of 6.3 log(10) PFU/ml. The ChimeriVax-D2 was not neurovirulent for 4-week-old outbred mice inoculated intracerebrally. This virus was evaluated in rhesus monkeys for its safety (induction of viremia) and protective efficacy (induction of anti-dengue-2 neutralizing antibodies and protection against challenge). In one experiment, groups of non-YF-immune monkeys received graded doses of ChimeriVax-D2; a control group received only the vaccine diluents. All monkeys (except the control group) developed a brief viremia and showed no signs of illness. Sixty-two days postimmunization, animals were challenged with 5.0 log(10) focus forming units (FFU) of a wild-type dengue-2 virus. No viremia (<1.7 log(10) FFU/ml) was detected in any vaccinated group, whereas all animals in the placebo control group developed viremia. All vaccinated monkeys developed neutralizing antibodies in a dose-dependent response. In another experiment, viremia and production of neutralizing antibodies were determined in YF-immune monkeys that received either ChimeriVax-D2 or a wild-type dengue-2 virus. Low viremia was detected in ChimeriVax-D2-inoculated monkeys, whereas all dengue-2-immunized animals became viremic. All of these animals were protected against challenge with a wild-type dengue-2 virus, whereas all YF-immune monkeys and nonimmune controls became viremic upon challenge. Genetic stability of ChimeriVax-D2 was assessed by continuous in vitro passage in VeroPM cells. The titer of ChimeriVax-D2, the attenuated phenotype for 4-week-old mice, and the sequence of the inserted prME genes were unchanged after 18 passages in Vero cells. The high replication efficiency, attenuation phenotype in mice and monkeys, immunogenicity and protective efficacy, and genomic stability of ChimeriVax-D2 justify it as a novel vaccine candidate to be evaluated in humans.

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