Dengue virus (DENV), composed of four distinct serotypes, is the most important and rapidly emerging arthropod-borne pathogen and imposes substantial economic and public health burdens. We constructed candidate vaccines containing the DNA of five of the genotypes of dengue virus serotype 2 (DENV-2) and evaluated the immunogenicity, the neutralizing (Nt) activity of the elicited antibodies, and the protective efficacy elicited in mice immunized with the vaccine candidates. We observed a significant correlation between the level of in vitro virus-like particle secretion, the elicited antibody response, and the protective efficacy of the vaccines containing the DNA of the different DENV genotypes in immunized mice. However, higher total IgG antibody levels did not always translate into higher Nt antibodies against homologous and heterologous viruses. We also found that, in contrast to previous reports, more than 50% of total IgG targeted ectodomain III (EDIII) of the E protein, and a substantial fraction of this population was interdomain highly neutralizing flavivirus subgroup-cross-reactive antibodies, such as monoclonal antibody 1B7-5. In addition, the lack of a critical epitope(s) in the Sylvatic genotype virus recognized by interdomain antibodies could be the major cause of the poor protection of mice vaccinated with the Asian 1 genotype vaccine (pVD2-Asian 1) from lethal challenge with virus of the Sylvatic genotype. In conclusion, although the pVD2-Asian 1 vaccine was immunogenic, elicited sufficient titers of Nt antibodies against all DENV-2 genotypes, and provided 100% protection against challenge with virus of the homologous Asian 1 genotype and virus of the heterologous Cosmopolitan genotype, it is critical to monitor the potential emergence of Sylvatic genotype viruses, since vaccine candidates under development may not protect vaccinated humans from these viruses
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