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Induction of antigen-specific immune responses in mice by recombinant baculovirus expressing premembrane and envelope proteins of West Nile virus

Bibo Zhu12, Jing Ye12, Ping Lu4, Rong Jiang12, Xiaohong Yang12, Zhen F Fu123, Huanchun Chen12 and Shengbo Cao12*

Author Affiliations

1 State Key Laboratory of Agricultural Microbiology, Huazhong Agricultural University, Wuhan, Hubei, 430070, People's Republic of China

2 Laboratory of Animal Virology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Huazhong Agricultural University, Wuhan, Hubei, 430070, People's Republic of China

3 Department of Pathology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, 30602, USA

4 China Animal Health and Epidemiology Center, Qingdao City, Shandong Province, 266032, People's Republic of China

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Virology Journal 2012, 9:132  doi:10.1186/1743-422X-9-132

Published: 16 July 2012



West Nile Virus (WNV) is an emerging arthropod-born flavivirus with increasing distribution worldwide that is responsible for a large proportion of viral encephalitis in humans and horses. Given that there are no effective antiviral drugs available for treatment of the disease, efforts have been directed to develop vaccines to prevent WNV infection. Recently baculovirus has emerged as a novel and attractive gene delivery vehicle for mammalian cells.


In the present study, recombinant baculoviruses expressing WNV premembrane (prM) and envelope (E) proteins under the cytomegalovirus (CMV) promoter with or without vesicular stomatitis virus glycoprotein (VSV/G) were constructed. The recombinant baculoviruses designated Bac-G-prM/E and Bac-prM/E, efficiently express E protein in mammalian cells. Intramuscular injection of the two recombinant baculoviruses (at doses of 108 or 109 PFU/mouse) induced the production of WNV-specific antibodies, neutralizing antibodies as well as gamma interferon (IFN-γ) in a dose-dependent pattern. Interestingly, the recombinant baculovirus Bac-G-prM/E was found to be a more efficient immunogen than Bac-prM/E to elicit a robust immune response upon intramuscular injection. In addition, inoculation of baculovirus resulted in the secretion of inflammatory cytokines, such as TNF-α, IL-2 and IL-6.


These recombinant baculoviruses are capable of eliciting robust humoral and cellular immune responses in mice, and may be considered as novel vaccine candidates for West Nile Virus.

West Nile virus; Rcombinant baculovirus; Premembrane/Envelope protein; Immune responses