Humoral and cellular immune responses induced by 3a DNA vaccines against severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) or SARS-like coronavirus in mice

Baojing Lu, Ling Tao, Ting Wang, Zhenhua Zheng, Bao Li, Ze Chen, Yi Huang, Qinxue Hu, Hanzhong Wang
Clinical and Vaccine Immunology: CVI 2009, 16 (1): 73-7
Vaccine development for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) has mainly focused on the spike (S) protein. However, the variation of the S gene between viruses may affect the efficacy of a vaccine, particularly for cross-protection against SARS-like CoV (SL-CoV). Recently, a more conserved group-specific open reading frame (ORF), the 3a gene, was found in both SARS-CoV and SL-CoV. Here, we studied the immunogenicity of human SARS-CoV 3a and bat SL-CoV 3a DNA vaccines in mice through electroporation immunization followed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent, enzyme-linked immunospot, and flow cytometry assays. Our results showed that high levels of specific humoral responses were induced by SARS-CoV 3a and SL-CoV 3a DNA vaccines. Furthermore, a strong Th1-based cellular immune response was stimulated by both DNA vaccines. The vaccines stimulated gamma interferon production mainly by CD8(+) T cells and interleukin-2 (IL-2) mainly by CD4(+) T cells. Of interest, the frequency of IL-2-positive cells elicited by the SARS-CoV 3a DNA vaccine was significantly higher than that elicited by the SL-CoV 3a DNA vaccine. In summary, our study provides a reference for designing cross-protective DNA vaccines based on the group-specific ORFs of CoVs.

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