Chimeric virus-like particle vaccines displaying conserved enterovirus 71 epitopes elicit protective neutralizing antibodies in mice through divergent mechanisms

Xiaohua Ye, Zhiqiang Ku, Qingwei Liu, Xiaoli Wang, Jinping Shi, Yunfang Zhang, Liangliang Kong, Yao Cong, Zhong Huang
Journal of Virology 2014, 88 (1): 72-81
Enterovirus 71 (EV71) is a major causative agent of hand, food, and mouth disease, which frequently occurs in young children. Since there are 11 subgenotypes (A, B1 to B5, and C1 to C5) within EV71, an EV71 vaccine capable of protecting against all of these subgenotypes is desirable. We report here the vaccine potential and protective mechanism of two chimeric virus-like particles (VLPs) presenting conserved neutralizing epitopes of EV71. We show that fusions of hepatitis B core antigen (HBc) with the SP55 or SP70 epitope of EV71, designated HBcSP55 and HBcSP70, respectively, can be rapidly generated and self-assembled into VLPs with the epitopes displayed on the surface. Immunization with the chimeric VLPs induced carrier- and epitope-specific antibody responses in mice. Anti-HBcSP55 and anti-HBcSP70 sera, but not anti-HBc sera, were able to neutralize in vitro multiple genotypes and strains of EV71. Importantly, passive immunization with anti-HBcSP55 or anti-HBcSP70 sera protected neonatal mice against lethal EV71 infections. Interestingly, anti-HBcSP70 sera could inhibit EV71 attachment to susceptible cells, whereas anti-HBcSP55 sera could not. However, both antisera were able to neutralize EV71 infection in vitro at the postattachment stage. The divergent mechanism of neutralization and protection conferred by anti-SP70 and anti-SP55 sera is in part attributed to their respective ability to bind authentic viral particles. Collectively, our study not only demonstrates that chimeric VLPs displaying the SP55 and SP70 epitopes are promising candidates for a broad-spectrum EV71 vaccine but also reveals distinct mechanisms of neutralization by the SP55- and SP70-targeted antibodies.

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