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mSphere ; 7(4): e0024322, 2022 08 31.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1992945


The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has contributed largely to the global vaccine disparity. Development of protein subunit vaccines can help alleviate shortages of COVID-19 vaccines delivered to low-income countries. Here, we evaluated the efficacy of a three-dose virus-like particle (VLP) vaccine composed of hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) decorated with the receptor binding domain (RBD) from the Wuhan or Beta SARS-CoV-2 strain adjuvanted with either aluminum hydroxide (alum) or squalene in water emulsion (SWE). RBD HBsAg vaccines were compared to the standard two doses of Pfizer mRNA vaccine. Alum-adjuvanted vaccines were composed of either HBsAg conjugated with Beta RBD alone (ß RBD HBsAg+Al) or a combination of both Beta RBD HBsAg and Wuhan RBD HBsAg (ß/Wu RBD HBsAg+Al). RBD vaccines adjuvanted with SWE were formulated with Beta RBD HBsAg (ß RBD HBsAg+SWE) or without HBsAg (ß RBD+SWE). Both alum-adjuvanted RBD HBsAg vaccines generated functional RBD IgG against multiple SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern (VOC), decreased viral RNA burden, and lowered inflammation in the lung against Alpha or Beta challenge in K18-hACE2 mice. However, only ß/Wu RBD HBsAg+Al was able to afford 100% survival to mice challenged with Alpha or Beta VOC. Furthermore, mice immunized with ß RBD HBsAg+SWE induced cross-reactive neutralizing antibodies against major VOC of SARS-CoV-2, lowered viral RNA burden in the lung and brain, and protected mice from Alpha or Beta challenge similarly to mice immunized with Pfizer mRNA. However, RBD+SWE immunization failed to protect mice from VOC challenge. Our findings demonstrate that RBD HBsAg VLP vaccines provided similar protection profiles to the approved Pfizer mRNA vaccines used worldwide and may offer protection against SARS-CoV-2 VOC. IMPORTANCE Global COVID-19 vaccine distribution to low-income countries has been a major challenge of the pandemic. To address supply chain issues, RBD virus-like particle (VLP) vaccines that are cost-effective and capable of large-scale production were developed and evaluated for efficacy in preclinical mouse studies. We demonstrated that RBD-VLP vaccines protected K18-hACE2 mice against Alpha or Beta challenge similarly to Pfizer mRNA vaccination. Our findings showed that the VLP platform can be utilized to formulate immunogenic and efficacious COVID-19 vaccines.

COVID-19 , Vaccines, Virus-Like Particle , Alum Compounds , Animals , Antibodies, Viral , COVID-19/prevention & control , COVID-19 Vaccines , Emulsions , Hepatitis B Surface Antigens/genetics , Humans , Melphalan , Mice , Mice, Inbred BALB C , Pandemics , RNA, Messenger , RNA, Viral , SARS-CoV-2 , Squalene , Vaccines, Synthetic , Water , gamma-Globulins , mRNA Vaccines
Front Immunol ; 12: 637654, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1138709


A coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, which has caused the pandemic viral pneumonia disease COVID-19, significantly threatens global public health, highlighting the need to develop effective and safe vaccines against its infection. In this study, we developed a novel DNA vaccine candidate against SARS-CoV-2 by expressing a chimeric protein of its receptor-binding domain (RBD) fused to a 33-bp sequence (11 aa) from the hepatitis B virus (HBV) preS1 region with a W4P mutation (W4P-RBD) at the N-terminal region and evaluated its immunogenicity. In vitro transfection experiments in multiple cell lines demonstrated that W4P-RBD vs. wild-type RBD protein (W-RBD) led to enhanced production of IL-6 and TNFα at the transcription and translation levels, suggesting the adjuvant potential of N-terminal HBV preS1 sequences for DNA vaccines against SARS-CoV-2. W4P-RBD also led to enhanced production of IgG and IgA, which can neutralize and block SARS-CoV-2 infection in both blood sera and bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid from the lung in vaccinated mice. Additionally, W4P-RBD led to an enhanced T-cell-mediated cellular immune response under S1 protein stimulation. In summary, W4P-RBD led to robust humoral and cell-mediated immune responses against SARS-CoV-2 in vaccinated mice, highlighting its feasibility as a novel DNA vaccine to protect against SARS-CoV-2 infection.

COVID-19 Vaccines/immunology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Hepatitis B Surface Antigens/genetics , Hepatitis B Surface Antigens/immunology , Mutation , Protein Domains/immunology , Protein Precursors/genetics , Protein Precursors/immunology , Recombinant Fusion Proteins/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Vaccines, DNA/immunology , Animals , Antibodies, Neutralizing/blood , Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , Antibodies, Viral/blood , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , COVID-19/virology , Cell Line, Tumor , Chlorocebus aethiops , HEK293 Cells , Humans , Immunogenicity, Vaccine , Male , Mice , Mice, Inbred C57BL , Vaccination/methods , Vero Cells