Rationale: Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is the causative pathogen for infectious mononucleosis and many kinds of malignancies including several lymphomas such as Hodgkin's lymphoma, Burkitt's lymphoma and NK/T cell lymphoma as well as carcinomas such as nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) and EBV-associated gastric carcinoma (EBV-GC). However, to date no available prophylactic vaccine was launched to the market for clinical use. Methods: To develop a novel vaccine candidate to prevent EBV infection and diseases, we designed chimeric virus-like particles (VLPs) based on the hepatitis B core antigen (HBc149). Various VLPs were engineered to present combinations of three peptides derived from the receptor binding domain of EBV gp350. All the chimeric virus-like particles were injected into Balb/C mice for immunogenicity evaluation. Neutralizing titer of mice sera were detected using an in vitro cell model. Results: All chimeric HBc149 proteins self-assembled into VLPs with gp350 epitopes displayed on the surface of spherical particles. Interestingly, the different orders of the three epitopes in the chimeric proteins induced different immune responses in mice. Two constructs (149-3A and 149-3B) induced high serum titer against the receptor-binding domain of gp350. Most importantly, these two VLPs elicited neutralizing antibodies in immunized mice, which efficiently blocked EBV infection in cell culture. Competition analysis showed that sera from these mice contained antibodies to a major neutralizing epitope recognized by the strong neutralizing mAb 72A1. Conclusion: Our data demonstrate that HBc149 chimeric VLPs provide a valuable platform to present EBV gp350 antigens and offer a robust basis for the development of peptide-based candidate vaccines against EBV.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Medicine (miscellaneous)
- Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics (miscellaneous)