Two-component vaccine consisting of virus-like particles displaying hepatitis C virus envelope protein 2 oligomers

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Development of B-cell-based hepatitis C virus (HCV) vaccines that induce broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs) is hindered by extensive sequence diversity and low immunogenicity of envelope glycoprotein vaccine candidates, most notably soluble E2 (sE2). To overcome this, we employed two-component approaches using self-assembling virus-like particles (cVLPs; component 1), displaying monomeric or oligomeric forms of HCV sE2 (sE2mono or sE2oligo; component 2). Immunization studies were performed in BALB/c mice and the neutralizing capacity of vaccine-induced antibodies was tested in cultured-virus-neutralizations, using HCV of genotypes 1–6. sE2-cVLP vaccines induced significantly higher levels of NAbs (p = 0.0065) compared to corresponding sE2 vaccines. Additionally, sE2oligo-cVLP was superior to sE2mono-cVLP in inducing bNAbs. Interestingly, human monoclonal antibody AR2A had reduced binding in ELISA to sE2oligo-cVLP compared with sE2mono-cVLP and competition ELISA using mouse sera from vaccinated animals indicated that sE2oligo-cVLP induced significantly less non-bNAbs AR2A (p = 0.0043) and AR1B (p = 0.017). Thus, cVLP-displayed oligomeric sE2 shows promise as an HCV vaccine candidate.

Original languageEnglish
Article number148
Journalnpj Vaccines
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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