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Comparative characteristics of the VP7 and VP4 antigenic epitopes of the rotaviruses circulating in Russia (Nizhny Novgorod) and the Rotarix and RotaTeq vaccines

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Two live, attenuated rotavirus A (RVA) vaccines, Rotarix and RotaTeq, have been successfully introduced into national immunization programs worldwide. The parent strains of both vaccines were obtained more than 30 years ago. Nonetheless, only very limited data are available on the molecular similarity of the vaccine strains and their genetic relationships to the wild-type strains circulating within the territory of Russian Federation. In this study, we have determined the nucleotide sequences of the genes encoding the viral proteins VP7 and VP4 (the globular domain VP8*) of vaccine strains and natural isolates of rotaviruses in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia. The VP7 and VP4 proteins contain antigenic sites that are the main targets of neutralizing antibodies. Phylogenetic analysis based on VP4 and VP7 showed that the majority of the natural RVA isolates from Nizhny Novgorod and the vaccine strains belong to different clusters. Four amino acids within the VP7 antigenic sites were common in both the wild-type and vaccine strains. The largest number of amino acid differences was found between the vaccine strain Rotarix and the Nizhny Novgorod G2 strains (19 residues out of 29). From 3 to 5 amino acid differences per strain were identified in the antigenic sites of VP4 (domain VP8*) between wild-type strains and the vaccine RotaTeq, and 6-8 substitutions were found when they were compared with the vaccine strain Rotarix. For the first time, immunodominant T-cell epitopes of VP7 were analyzed, and differences in the sequences between the vaccine and the wild-type strains were found. The accumulation of amino acid substitutions in the VP7 and VP4 antigenic sites may potentially reduce the immune protection of vaccinated children from wild-type strains of rotavirus.

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We thank Dr. Sergei Gutnikov of Oxford Progress Ltd (Oxford, UK) for his valuable suggestions on stylistic improvements of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to O. V. Morozova.

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Morozova, O.V., Sashina, T.A., Fomina, S.G. et al. Comparative characteristics of the VP7 and VP4 antigenic epitopes of the rotaviruses circulating in Russia (Nizhny Novgorod) and the Rotarix and RotaTeq vaccines. Arch Virol 160, 1693–1703 (2015).

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