Junfeng Sun , Zongxi Han , Ran Zhao , Hui Ai , Linna Chen , Le Li , Shengwang Liu
Vaccine.2020 Sep 24;S0264-410X(20)31199-3.doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2020.09.039. Online ahead of print.
In this study, four codon optimized plasmids (designated as pCAG-optiF-1, 2, -3, and -4) containing modified F genes from the epidemic and virulent NDV genotype VII strain isolated in China that is expected to express the pre-fusion conformation of the F protein were constructed. The expression of these F variants in chicken-derived cells was detected by an indirect immunofluorescence assay and western blot analysis. Two soluble F variants (roptiF-1 and 2) potentially with the pre-fusion conformation were expressed and purified from suspended cells. Vaccination with each of the plasmids as a DNA vaccine conferred partial clinical protection to chicks against NDV. Comparatively, the plasmid pCAG-optiF-2 encoded a soluble protein with a mutant cleavage site and the potential pre-fusion conformation provided better protection than the other plasmids. Further investigation of the combined vaccinations with the plasmid DNA pCAG-optiF-2 prime + protein roptiF-2 boost vaccination strategy elicited more robust immunity, as confirmed by the detection of antibodies against NDV using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and virus neutralization assay, as compared to those vaccinated with only the plasmid pCAG-optiF-2 or protein roptiF-2. More importantly, the DNA prime + protein boost vaccination provided more efficacious protection against virulent NDV challenge, as evidenced by the complete clinical protection, reduced viral shedding, and limited virus replication in tissues of the challenge chicks. These results indicated that the pre-fusion conformation of the F protein could be considered as the target immunogen for the development of novel NDV vaccines.
Keywords: F protein; Newcastle disease virus; Pre-fusion; Vaccine candidate.
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