1998, pp 211-219

VP7 from African horse sickness virus serotype 9 protects mice against a lethal, heterologous serotype challenge

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An established mouse model system was used to evaluate the effectiveness of the major outer core protein VP7 of African horse sickness virus (AHSV) serotype 9 as a subunit vaccine. Balb C mice were immunised with VP7 crystals purified from AHSV infected BHK cells. In groups of mice, each of which was immunised with ≥ 1.5 µg of the protein in Freund’s adjuvant, ≥ 80% of mice survived challenge with a virulent strain of a heterologous AHSV serotype (AHSV 7), that killed ≥ 80% of the mice in the uninoculated control groups. This level of protection was significantly greater than that observed in mice inoculated with equivalent amounts of either denatured VP7 (50% survival), or GST/VP7 fusion protein (50–70% survival), or which were vaccinated with AHSV 9 (40–50% survival). The VP7 protein folding, or its assembly into crystals, are thought to play some role in the effectiveness of the protective response observed. Titres of circulating antibodies against AHSV VP7 were determined by competitive ELISA but did not appear to correlate with the levels of protection observed. Passive transfer of these antibodies to syngeneic recipients also failed to protect Balb C mice from the AHSV 7 challenge. The observed protection is therefore unlikely to be due to an antibody mediated immune response.