RESEARCH ARTICLE


Neutralizing epitope of the Fusion Protein of Respiratory Syncytial Virus Embedded in the HA Molecule of LAIV Virus is not Sufficient to Prevent RS Virus Pulmonary Replication but Ameliorates Lung Pathology following RSV Infection in Mice



Tatiana Kotomina1, Irina Isakova-Sivak1, Ekaterina Stepanova1, Daria Mezhenskaya1, Victoria Matyushenko1, Polina Prokopenko1, Konstantin Sivak2, Irina Kiseleva1, *, Larisa Rudenko1
1 Department of Virology, Institute of Experimental Medicine, Saint Petersburg, Russia
2 Smorodintsev Research Institute of Influenza, Saint Petersburg, Russia


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Creative Commons License
© 2020 Kotomina et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/legalcode). This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Virology, Institute of Experimental Medicine, Saint Petersburg, Russia; E-mail: irina.v.kiseleva@mail.ru


Abstract

Aims:

To develop experimental bivalent vaccines against influenza and RSV using a cold-adapted LAIV backbone.

Background:

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a causative agent of bronchiolitis and pneumonia in young children, elderly and immunocompromised adults. No vaccine against RSV has been licensed to date for various reasons. One of the promising platforms for designing RSV vaccine is the use of live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV) viruses to deliver RSV epitopes to the respiratory mucosa.

Objective:

To generate recombinant LAIV viruses encoding a neutralizing epitope of the RSV fusion protein and assess their protective potential against both influenza and RSV infections in a mouse model.

Methods:

Reverse genetics methods were used to rescue recombinant LAIV+HA/RSV viruses expressing chimeric hemagglutinins encoding the RSV-F epitope at its N-terminus using two different flexible linkers. BALB/c mice were intranasally immunized with two doses of the recombinant viruses and then challenged with the influenza virus or RSV. The LAIV viral vector and formalin-inactivated RSV (FI-RSV) were included as control vaccines. Protection was assessed by the reduction of virus pulmonary titers. In addition, RSV-induced lung pathology was evaluated by histopathology studies.

Results:

Two rescued chimeric LAIV+HA/RSV viruses were identical to the LAIV vector in terms of replication capacity in vitro and in vivo. The RSV-F neutralizing epitope was successfully expressed only if inserted into the HA molecule via G-linker, but not A-linker. Both chimeric viruses induced high influenza-specific antibody levels and fully protected mice against a lethal influenza challenge virus. However, they induced weak anti-RSV antibody responses which did not prevent RS virus replication upon challenge, and only LAIV-HA+G-RSV variant protected mice against RSV-induced lung pathology.

Conclusion:

Although the designed LAIV-RSV chimeric viruses were unable to neutralize the RS virus pulmonary replication, the LAIV-HA+G-RSV reduced RSV-induced lung pathology and can be considered a promising bivalent vaccine against influenza and RSV infections and warrants its further development.

Keywords: Respiratory syncytial virus , Fusion protein , Neutralizing epitope , Vector vaccines , Live attenuated Influenza vaccine , Eosinophilia .