A Vaccine Based on the Rhesus Cytomegalovirus UL128 Complex Induces Broadly Neutralizing Antibodies in Rhesus Macaques

Neutralizing antibodies (NAb) are important for interfering with horizontal transmission of human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) leading to primary and congenital HCMV infection. Recent findings have shown that a pentameric virion complex formed by the glycoproteins gH/gL, UL128, UL130, and UL131A (UL128C) is required for HCMV entry into epithelial/endothelial cells (Epi/EC) and is the target of potent NAb in HCMV-seropositive individuals. Using bacterial artificial chromosome technology, we have generated a modified vaccinia Ankara virus (MVA) that stably coexpresses all 5 rhesus CMV (RhCMV) proteins homologous to HCMV UL128C, termed MVA-RhUL128C. Coimmunoprecipitation confirmed the interaction of RhgH with the other 4 RhCMV subunits of the pentameric complex. All 8 RhCMV-naïve rhesus macaques (RM) vaccinated with MVA-RhUL128C developed NAb that blocked infection of monkey kidney epithelial cells (MKE) and rhesus fibroblasts. NAb titers induced by MVA-RhUL128C measured on both cell types at 2 to 6 weeks postvaccination were comparable to levels observed in naturally infected RM. In contrast, MVA expressing a subset of RhUL128C proteins or RhgB glycoprotein only minimally stimulated NAb that inhibited infection of MKE. In addition, following subcutaneous RhCMV challenge at 8 weeks postvaccination, animals vaccinated with MVA-RhUL128C showed reduced plasma viral loads. These results indicate that MVA expressing the RhUL128C induces NAb inhibiting RhCMV entry into both Epi/EC and fibroblasts and limits RhCMV replication in RM. This novel approach is the first step in developing a prophylactic HCMV vaccine designed to interfere with virus entry into major cell types permissive for viral replication, a required property of an effective vaccine.


Haber: Hasan Naz

Posted September 23, Eylül 2013