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Mol Ther ; 29(3): 1174-1185, 2021 03 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-985497


Self-amplifying RNA (saRNA) is a cutting-edge platform for both nucleic acid vaccines and therapeutics. saRNA is self-adjuvanting, as it activates types I and III interferon (IFN), which enhances the immunogenicity of RNA vaccines but can also lead to inhibition of translation. In this study, we screened a library of saRNA constructs with cis-encoded innate inhibiting proteins (IIPs) and determined the effect on protein expression and immunogenicity. We observed that the PIV-5 V and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) ORF4a proteins enhance protein expression 100- to 500-fold in vitro in IFN-competent HeLa and MRC5 cells. We found that the MERS-CoV ORF4a protein partially abates dose nonlinearity in vivo, and that ruxolitinib, a potent Janus kinase (JAK)/signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT) inhibitor, but not the IIPs, enhances protein expression of saRNA in vivo. Both the PIV-5 V and MERS-CoV ORF4a proteins were found to enhance the percentage of resident cells in human skin explants expressing saRNA and completely rescued dose nonlinearity of saRNA. Finally, we observed that the MERS-CoV ORF4a increased the rabies virus (RABV)-specific immunoglobulin G (IgG) titer and neutralization half-maximal inhibitory concentration (IC50) by ∼10-fold in rabbits, but not in mice or rats. These experiments provide a proof of concept that IIPs can be directly encoded into saRNA vectors and effectively abate the nonlinear dose dependency and enhance immunogenicity.

Immunity, Innate/drug effects , Immunogenicity, Vaccine , Protein Biosynthesis/drug effects , Vaccines, Synthetic/pharmacology , Viral Envelope Proteins/administration & dosage , Animals , Cell Line , Encephalitis Virus, Venezuelan Equine/drug effects , Encephalitis Virus, Venezuelan Equine/immunology , Encephalitis Virus, Venezuelan Equine/pathogenicity , Fibroblasts , Gene Expression Regulation , HeLa Cells , Host-Pathogen Interactions/genetics , Host-Pathogen Interactions/immunology , Humans , Immunoglobulin G/biosynthesis , Interferon Regulatory Factor-3/genetics , Interferon Regulatory Factor-3/immunology , Janus Kinases/antagonists & inhibitors , Janus Kinases/genetics , Janus Kinases/immunology , Mice , Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus/drug effects , Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus/immunology , Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus/pathogenicity , NF-kappa B/genetics , NF-kappa B/immunology , Nitriles , Parainfluenza Virus 5/drug effects , Parainfluenza Virus 5/immunology , Parainfluenza Virus 5/pathogenicity , Pyrazoles/pharmacology , Pyrimidines , Rabbits , Rabies virus/drug effects , Rabies virus/immunology , Rabies virus/pathogenicity , Rats , STAT Transcription Factors/antagonists & inhibitors , STAT Transcription Factors/genetics , STAT Transcription Factors/immunology , Signal Transduction , Vaccines, Synthetic/biosynthesis , Viral Envelope Proteins/genetics , Viral Envelope Proteins/immunology