RESEARCH SUPPORT, U.S. GOV'T, P.H.S.
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Protection from La Crosse virus encephalitis with recombinant glycoproteins: role of neutralizing anti-G1 antibodies.

La Crosse virus, a member of the California serogroup of bunyaviruses, is an important cause of pediatric encephalitis in the midwestern United States. Like all bunyaviruses, La Crosse virus contains two glycoproteins, G1 and G2, the larger of which, G1, is the target of neutralizing antibodies. To develop an understanding of the role of each of the glycoproteins in the generation of a protective immune response, we immunized 1-week-old mice with three different preparations: a vaccinia virus recombinant (VV.ORF) that expresses both G1 and G2, a vaccinia virus recombinant (VV.G1) that expresses G1 only, and a truncated soluble G1 (sG1) protein prepared in a baculovirus system. Whereas VV.ORF generated a protective response that was mostly directed against G1, VV.G1 was only partially effective at inducing a neutralizing response and at protecting mice from a potentially lethal challenge with La Crosse virus. Nevertheless, a single immunization with the sG1 preparation resulted in a robust immune response and protection against La Crosse virus. These results indicate that (i) the G1 protein by itself can induce an immune response sufficient for protection from a lethal challenge with La Crosse virus, (ii) a neutralizing humoral response correlates with protection, and (iii) the context in which G1 is presented affects its immunogenicity. The key step in the defense against central nervous system infection appeared to be interruption of a transient viremia that occurred just after La Crosse virus inoculation.

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