A Highly Immunogenic, Protective, and Safe Adenovirus-Based Vaccine Expressing Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus S1-CD40L Fusion Protein in a Transgenic Human Dipeptidyl Peptidase 4 Mouse Model.J Infect Dis. 2019 10 08; 220(10):1558-1567.JI
Infection control measures have played a major role in limiting human/camel-to-human transmission of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV); however, development of effective and safe human or camel vaccines is warranted.
We extended and optimized our previous recombinant adenovirus 5 (rAd5)-based vaccine platform characterized by in vivo amplified and CD40-mediated specific responses to generate MERS-CoV S1 subunit-based vaccine. We generated rAd5 constructs expressing CD40-targeted S1 fusion protein (rAd5-S1/F/CD40L), untargeted S1 (rAd5-S1), and Green Fluorescent Protein (rAd5-GFP), and evaluated their efficacy and safety in human dipeptidyl peptidase 4 transgenic (hDPP4 Tg+) mice.
Immunization of hDPP4 Tg+ mice with a single dose of rAd5-S1/F/CD40L elicited as robust and significant specific immunoglobulin G and neutralizing antibodies as those induced with 2 doses of rAd5-S1. After MERS-CoV challenge, both vaccines conferred complete protection against morbidity and mortality, as evidenced by significantly undetectable/reduced pulmonary viral loads compared to the control group. However, rAd5-S1- but not rAd5-S1/F/CD40L-immunized mice exhibited marked pulmonary perivascular hemorrhage post-MERS-CoV challenge despite the observed protection.
Incorporation of CD40L into rAd5-based MERS-CoV S1 vaccine targeting molecule and molecular adjuvants not only enhances immunogenicity and efficacy but also prevents inadvertent pulmonary pathology after viral challenge, thereby offering a promising strategy to enhance safety and potency of vaccines.