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Virologica Sinica, 33 (3) : 213, 2018
Research Article
Zika Virus Baculovirus-Expressed Virus-Like Particles Induce Neutralizing Antibodies in Mice
State Key Laboratory of Virology, Wuhan Institute of Virology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Wuhan 430071, China
 Correspondence: h.wang@wh.iov.cn;df@wh.iov.cn
The newly emerged mosquito-borne Zika virus (ZIKV) strains pose a global challenge owing to its ability to cause microcephaly and neurological disorders. Several ZIKV vaccine candidates have been proposed, including inactivated and live attenuated virus vaccines, vector-based vaccines, DNA and RNA vaccines. These have been shown to be efficacious in preclinical studies in mice and nonhuman primates, but their use will potentially be a threat to immunocompromised individuals and pregnant women. Virus-like particles (VLPs) are empty particles composed merely of viral proteins, which can serve as a safe and valuable tool for clinical prevention and treatment strategies. In this study, we used a new strategy to produce ZIKV VLPs based on the baculovirus expression system and demonstrated the feasibility of their use as a vaccine candidate. The pre-membrane (prM) and envelope (E) proteins were co-expressed in insect cells and selfassembled into particles similar to ZIKV. We found that the ZIKV VLPs could be quickly and easily prepared in large quantities using this system. The VLPs were shown to have good immunogenicity in immunized mice, as they stimulated high levels of virus neutralizing antibody titers, ZIKV-specific IgG titers and potent memory T cell responses. Thus, the baculovirus-based ZIKV VLP vaccine is a safe, effective and economical vaccine candidate for use against ZIKV.
Received: 13 Dec 2017  Accepted: 30 Mar 2018  Published online: 17 May 2018
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