Ns1 is a key protein in the vaccine composition to protect Ifnar(-/-) mice against infection with multiple serotypes of African horse sickness virus
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African horse sickness virus (AHSV) belongs to the genus Orbivirus. We have now engineered naked DNAs and recombinant modified vaccinia virus Ankara (rMVA) expressing VP2 and NS1 proteins from AHSV-4. IFNAR(-/-) mice inoculated with DNA/rMVA-VP2,-NS1 from AHSV-4 in an heterologous prime-boost vaccination strategy generated significant levels of neutralizing antibodies specific of AHSV-4. In addition, vaccination stimulated specific T cell responses against the virus. The vaccine elicited partial protection against an homologous AHSV-4 infection and induced cross-protection against the heterologous AHSV-9. Similarly, IFNAR(-/-) mice vaccinated with an homologous prime-boost strategy with rMVA-VP2-NS1 from AHSV-4 developed neutralizing antibodies and protective immunity against AHSV-4. Furthermore, the levels of immunity were very high since none of vaccinated animals presented viraemia when they were challenged against the homologous AHSV-4 and very low levels when they were challenged against the heterologous virus AHSV-9. These data suggest that the immunization with rMVA/rMVA was more efficient in protection against a virulent challenge with AHSV-4 and both strategies, DNA/rMVA and rMVA/rMVA, protected against the infection with AHSV-9. The inclusion of the protein NS1 in the vaccine formulations targeting AHSV generates promising multiserotype vaccines. © 2013 de la Poza et al.