Rabies remains an important public health threat in most developing countries. To develop a more effective and safe vaccine against rabies, we have constructed a chimeric rabies virus-like particle (VLP), which containing glycoprotein (G) and matrix protein (M) of rabies virus (RABV) Evelyn-Rokitnicki-Abelseth (ERA) strain, and membrane-anchored granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF), and it was named of EVLP-G. The immunogenicity and protective efficacy of EVLP-G against RABV were evaluated by intramuscular administration in a mouse model. The EVLP-G was successfully produced in insect cells by coinfection with three recombinant baculoviruses expressing G, M, and GM-CSF, respectively. The membrane-anchored GM-CSF possesses a strong adjuvant activity. More B cells and dendritic cells (DCs) were recruited and/or activated in inguinal lymph nodes in mice immunized with EVLP-G. EVLP-G was found to induce a significantly increased RABV-specific virus-neutralizing antibody and elicit a larger and broader antibody subclass responses compared with the standard rabies VLP (sRVLP, consisting of G and M). The EVLP-G also elicited significantly more IFN-γ- or IL-4-secreting CD4+
T cells than the sRVLP. Moreover, the immune responses induced by EVLP-G protect all vaccinated mice from lethal challenge with RABV. These results suggest that EVLP-G has the potential to be developed as a novel vaccine candidate for the prevention and control of animal rabies.
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