A recombinant VSV-vectored MERS-CoV vaccine induces neutralizing antibody and T cell responses in rhesus monkeys after single dose immunization

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Abstract

Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) has been a highly threatening zoonotic pathogen since its outbreak in 2012. Similar to SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV belongs to the coronavirus family and can induce severe respiratory symptoms in humans, with an average case fatality rate of 35% according to the World Health Organization. Spike (S) protein of MERS-CoV is immunogenic and can induce neutralizing antibodies, thus is a potential major target for vaccine development. Here we constructed a chimeric virus based on the vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) in which the G gene was replaced by MERS-CoV S gene (VSVΔG-MERS). The S protein efficiently incorporated into the viral envelope and mediated cell entry through binding its receptor, human DPP4. Knockdown of clathrin expression by siRNA drastically abrogated the infection of VSVΔG-MERS in Vero cells. Furthermore, in animal studies, the recombinant virus induced neutralizing antibodies and T cell responses in rhesus monkeys after a single intramuscular or intranasal immunization dose. Our findings indicate the potential of the chimeric VSVΔG-MERS as a rapid response vaccine candidate against emerging MERS-CoV disease.

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