Co-administration of recombinant major envelope proteins (rA27L and rH3L) of buffalopox virus provides enhanced immunogenicity and protective efficacy in animal models

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Buffalopox virus (BPXV) and other vaccinia-like viruses (VLVs) are causing an emerging/re-emerging zoonosis affecting buffaloes, cattle and humans in India and other countries. A27L and H3L are immuno-dominant major envelope proteins of intracellular mature virion (IMV) of orthopoxviruses (OPVs) and are highly conserved with an ability to elicit neutralizing antibodies. In the present study, two recombinant proteins namely; rA27L (21S to E110; ˜30 kDa) and rH3L(1M to I280; ˜50 kDa) of BPXV-Vij/96 produced from Escherichia coli were used in vaccine formulation. A combined recombinant subunit vaccine comprising rA27L and rH3L antigens (10 μg of each) was used for active immunization of adult mice (20μg/dose/mice) with or without adjuvant (FCA/FIA) by intramuscular route. Immune responses revealed a gradual increase in antigen specific serum IgG as well as neutralizing antibody titers measured by using indirect-ELISA and serum neutralization test (SNT) respectively, which were higher as compared to that elicited by individual antigens. Suckling mice passively administered with combined anti-A27L and anti-H3L sera showed a complete (100%) pre-exposure protection upon challenge with virulent BPXV. Conclusively, this study highlights the potential utility of rA27L and rH3L proteins as safer candidate prophylactic antigens in combined recombinant subunit vaccine for buffalopox as well as passive protective efficacy of combined sera in employing better pre-exposure protection against virulent BPXV.

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