Author(s): Grosfeld H, Velan B, Leitner M, Cohen S, Lustig S,
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Abstract Along the 422 amino acids of the Semliki Forest virus (SFV) E2 envelope glycoprotein, we identified 13 peptide cassettes (ranging in size from 15 to 25 amino acids and designated A through N) that contain hydrophilic sequences flanked by amino acid sequences conserved in the E2 envelopes of the alphavirus family. Six peptide blocks containing either a single cassette or two to three contiguous cassettes (A, BC, DE, FG, HIK, and LMN) were produced in Escherichia coli as recombinant proteins fused to the N terminus of beta-galactosidase. All of the SFV E2 recombinant polypeptides except A-beta-galactosidase were recognized on Western blots (immunoblots) by anti-SFV polyclonal antisera. In addition, these five recombinant proteins induced in mice antibodies that interacted specifically with SFV E2 protein on Western blots as well as with the intact virions in an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. The six hybrid proteins were used to vaccinate mice and were tested for the ability to confer resistance against lethal doses of SFV. Peptides BC and HIK, located at amino acid positions 114 to 149 and 216 to 288, respectively, of E2, protected partially (40 to 60\%) against SFV challenge. A third peptide, LMN, located between amino acid positions 289 and 352, rendered mice totally resistant to an SFV challenge of 250 50\% lethal doses. The partially protective effects of the BC and HIK cassettes and the high efficacy of the LMN cassette were consistently demonstrated, independent of the adjuvant (complete Freund or alum), immunization protocol, and strain of mice used. None of the antisera raised against any given cassette could neutralize the virus in an in vitro tissue culture assay or in a plaque reduction neutralization test. Nevertheless, passive transfer experiments demonstrated that in the case of LMN, the protective effect was mainly of a humoral nature.
This article was published in J Virol
and referenced in Journal of Bioterrorism & Biodefense