Nipah virus (NiV) is an emerging zoonotic virus that is transmitted by bats to humans and to pigs, causing severe respiratory disease and often fatal encephalitis. Antibodies directed against the NiV-glycoprotein (G) protein are known to play a major role in clearing NiV infection and in providing vaccine-induced protective immunity. More recently, T cells have been also shown to be involved in recovery from NiV infection. So far, relatively little is known about the role of T cell responses and the antigenic targets of NiV-G that are recognized by CD8 T cells. In this study, NiV-G protein served as the target immunogen to activate NiV-specific cellular immune responses. Modified Vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA), a safety-tested strain of vaccinia virus for preclinical and clinical vaccine research, was used for the generation of MVA–NiV-G candidate vaccines expressing different versions of recombinant NiV-G. Overlapping peptides covering the entire NiV-G protein were used to identify major histocompatibility complex class I/II-restricted T cell responses in type I interferon receptor-deficient (IFNAR−/−) mice after vaccination with the MVA–NiV-G candidate vaccines. We have identified an H2-b-restricted nonamer peptide epitope with CD8 T cell antigenicity and a H2-b 15mer with CD4 T cell antigenicity in the NiV-G protein. The identification of this epitope and the availability of the MVA–NiV-G candidate vaccines will help to evaluate NiV-G-specific immune responses and the potential immune correlates of vaccine-mediated protection in the appropriate murine models of NiV-G infection. Of note, a soluble version of NiV-G was advantageous in activating NiV-G-specific cellular immune responses using these peptides.
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