Key Laboratory of Animal Virology of Ministry of Agriculture, State Key Laboratory of Veterinary Etiological Biology, Lanzhou Veterinary Research Institute of Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Lanzhou 730046, China
E2 is an envelope glycoprotein of Classical swine fever virus (CSFV) and contains sequential neutralizing epitopes to induce virus-neutralizing antibodies and mount protective immunity in the natural host. In this study, four antigen domains (ABCD) of the E2 gene was cloned from CSFV Shimen strain into the retroviral vector pBABE puro and expressed in eukaryotic cell (PK15) by an retroviral gene expression system, and the activity of recombinant E2 protein to induce immune responses was evaluated in rabbits. The results indicated that recombinant E2 protein can be recognized by fluorescence antibodies of CSFV and CSFV positive serum (Lanzhou Veterinary Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Lanzhou, China) using Western blot, indirect immunofluorescence antibody test (IFAT) and ELISA, Furthermore, anti-CSFV specific antibodies and lymphocyte proliferation were elicited and increased by recombinant protein after vaccination. In the challenge test, all of rabbits vaccinated with recombinant protein and Chinese vaccine strain (C-strain) were fully protected from a rabbit spleen virus challenge. These results indicated that a retroviral-based epitope-vaccine carrying the major antigen domains of E2 is able to induce high level of epitope-specific antibodies and exhibits similar protective capability with that induced by the C-strain, and encourages further work towards the development of a vaccine against CSFV infection.