Codelivery of improved immune complex and virus-like particle vaccines containing Zika virus envelope domain III synergistically enhances immunogenicity

Andrew G. Diamos, Mary D. Pardhe, Haiyan Sun, Joseph G.L. Hunter, Tsafrir Mor, Lydia Meador, Jacquelyn Kilbourne, Qiang Chen, Hugh S. Mason

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Zika virus (ZIKV) reemergence poses a significant health threat especially due to its risks to fetal development, necessitating safe and effective vaccines that can protect pregnant women. Zika envelope domain III (ZE3) has been identified as a safe and effective vaccine candidate, however it is poorly immunogenic. We previously showed that plant-made recombinant immune complex (RIC) vaccines are a robust platform to improve the immunogenicity of weak antigens. In this study, we altered the antigen fusion site on the RIC platform to accommodate N-terminal fusion to the IgG heavy chain (N-RIC), and thus a wider range of antigens, with a resulting 40% improvement in RIC expression over the normal C-terminal fusion (C-RIC). Both types of RICs containing ZE3 were efficiently assembled in plants and purified to >95% homogeneity with a simple one-step purification. Both ZE3 RICs strongly bound complement receptor C1q and elicited strong ZE3-specific antibody titers that correlated with ZIKV neutralization. When either N-RIC or C-RIC was codelivered with plant-produced hepatitis B core (HBc) virus-like particles (VLP) displaying ZE3, the combination elicited 5-fold greater antibody titers (>1,000,000) and more strongly neutralized ZIKV than either RICs or VLPs alone, after only two doses without adjuvant. These findings demonstrate that antigens that require a free N-terminus for optimal antigen display can now be used with the RIC system, and that plant-made RICs and VLPs are highly effective vaccines targeting ZE3. Thus, the RIC platform can be more generally applied to a wider variety of antigens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3455-3463
Number of pages9
JournalVaccine
Volume38
Issue number18
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 16 2020

Keywords

  • Envelope protein
  • Plant-made vaccine
  • Recombinant immune complex
  • Virus-like particle
  • Zika virus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • veterinary(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases

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