Genetic stability of a dengue vaccine based on chimeric yellow fever/dengue viruses

N Mantel, Y Girerd, C Geny, I Bernard, J Pontvianne, J Lang, V Barban
Vaccine 2011 September 2, 29 (38): 6629-35
A tetravalent dengue vaccine based on four live, attenuated, chimeric viruses (CYD1-4), constructed by replacing the genes coding for premembrane (prM) and envelope (E) proteins of the yellow fever (YF)-17D vaccine strain with those of the four serotypes of dengue virus, is in clinical phase III evaluation. We assessed the vaccine's genetic stability by fully sequencing each vaccine virus throughout the development and manufacturing process. The four viruses displayed complete genetic stability, with no change from premaster seed lots to bulk lots. When pursuing the virus growth beyond bulk lots, a few genetic variations were observed. Usually both the initial nucleotide and the new one persisted, and mutations appeared after a relatively high number of virus duplication cycles (65-200, depending on position). Variations were concentrated in the prM-E and non-structural (NS)4B regions. PrM-E variations had no impact on lysis-plaque size or neurovirulence in mice. None of the variations located in the YF-17D-derived genes corresponded with reversion to the wild-type Yellow Fever sequence. Variations in NS4B likely reflect virus adaptation to Vero cells growth. A low to undetectable viremia has been reported previously [1-3] in vaccinated non-human and human primates. Combined with the data reported here about the genetic stability of the vaccine strains, the probability of in vivo emergence of mutant viruses appears very low.

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