DNA vaccination with a gene encoding VP60 elicited protective immunity against rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus.
Rabbit hemorrhagic disease (RHD) is a contagious disease in adult rabbits, with high mortality, that occurs throughout the world. The VP60 protein has been implicated as main protein antigen in virus diagnosis and vaccine design. In this report, we describe the construction of a novel DNA vaccine (pcDNA-VP60) expressing the RHDV capsid protein (VP60), and the expression of the recombinant protein was identified through indirect immunofluorescence assay (IFA) and Western blot assay. VP60 protein self-assembled to form virus-like particles (VLPs) observed by electron microscopy were morphologically similar to native virions. For the evaluation of vaccine efficacy, rabbits were inoculated with PBS, pcDNA3.1((+)), pcDNA-VP60 or RHDV inactive vaccine. They were challenged with RHDV-TP isolate four weeks after last boost immunization. In all cases, the rabbits immunized with pcDNA-VP60 developed high level of RHDV-specific antibodies and cellular immune response. The rabbits injected with DNA vaccine were completely protected against RHDV challenge like commercial RHDV inactive vaccine, moreover, RHDV viral load was significantly reduced in the liver samples from immunized rabbits. The recombinant DNA vaccine may provide a novel strategy for the immunization of rabbits for the control of RHDV. Copyright © 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.