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Rift Valley fever virus subunit vaccines confer complete protection against a lethal virus challenge.

ABSTRACT

Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV) is an emerging mosquito-borne virus causing significant morbidity and mortality in livestock and humans. Rift Valley fever is endemic in Africa, but also outside this continent outbreaks have been reported. Here we report the evaluation of two vaccine candidates based on the viral Gn and Gc envelope glycoproteins, both produced in a Drosophila insect cell expression system. Virus-like particles (VLPs) were generated by merely expressing the Gn and Gc glycoproteins. In addition, a soluble form of the Gn ectodomain was expressed and affinity-purified from the insect cell culture supernatant. Both vaccine candidates fully protected mice from a lethal challenge with RVFV. Importantly, absence of the nucleocapsid protein in either vaccine candidate facilitates the differentiation between infected and vaccinated animals using a commercial recombinant nucleocapsid protein-based indirect ELISA.