Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is a serious threat to public health and the economy on a global scale. The SARS coronavirus (SARS-CoV) has been identified as the etiological agent for SARS. Thus, vaccination against SARS-CoV may represent an effective approach to controlling SARS. DNA vaccines are an attractive approach for SARS vaccine development, as they offer many advantages over conventional vaccines, including stability, simplicity, and safety. Our investigators have previously shown that DNA vaccination with antigen linked to calreticulin (CRT) dramatically enhances major histocompatibility complex class I presentation of linked antigen to CD8 + T cells. In this study, we have employed this CRT-based enhancement strategy to create effective DNA vaccines using SARS-CoV nucleocapsid (N) protein as a target antigen. Vaccination with naked CRT/N DNA generated the most potent N-specific humoral and T-cell-mediated immune responses in vaccinated C57BL/6 mice among all of the DNA constructs tested. Furthermore, mice vaccinated with CRT/N DNA were capable of significantly reducing the titer of challenging vaccinia virus expressing the N protein of the SARS virus. These results show that a DNA vaccine encoding CRT linked to a SARS-CoV antigen is capable of generating strong N-specific humoral and cellular immunity and may potentially be useful for control of infection with SARS-CoV.
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