1. College of Veterinary Medicine, Gansu Agricultural University, Lanzhou 730070, China 2. State key Laboratory of Veterinary Etiological Biology, Key Laboratory of Animal Virology of Ministry of Agriculture, Lanzhou Veterinary Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Lanzhou 730046, China
To develop a safe and efficient recombinant subunit vaccine to foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) type Asia 1 in sheep, a tandem repeated multiple-epitope gene consisting of residues 137-160 and 197-211 of the VP1 gene of FMDV was designed and artificially synthesized. The biologically functional molecule, the ovine IgG heavy constant region (oIgG) as a protein carrier was introduced for design of the multiple-epitope recombinant vaccine and recombinant expression plasmids pET-30a-RE and pET-30a-RE-oIgG were successfully constructed. The recombinant proteins, RE and RE-oIgG, were expressed as a formation of inclusion bodies in E. coli. The immune potential of this vaccine regime in guinea pigs and sheep was evaluated. The results showed that IgG could significantly enhance the immune potential of antigenic epitopes. The recombinant protein RE-oIgG could not only elicit the high levels of neutralizing antibodies and lymphocytes proliferation responses in the vaccinated guinea pigs, but confer complete protection in guinea pigs against virus challenge. Although the recombinant protein RE could not confer protection in the vaccinated animals, it could delay the appearance of the clinical signs and reduce the severity of disease. Inspiringly, the titers of anti-FMDV neutralizing antibodies elicited in sheep vaccinated with RE-oIgG was significantly higher than that for the RE vaccination. Therefore, we speculated that this vaccine formulation may be a promising strategy for designing a novel vaccine against FMDV in the future.