Characterization of secreted and intracellular forms of a truncated hepatitis C virus E2 protein expressed by a recombinant herpes simplex virus.
Lucas M., Tsitoura E., Montoya M., Laliotou B., Aslanoglou E., Kouvatsis V., Entwisle C., Miller J., Klenerman P., Hadziyannis A., Hadziyannis S., Borrow P., Mavromara P.
A replication-defective herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) recombinant lacking the glycoprotein H (gH)-encoding gene and expressing a truncated form of the hepatitis C (HCV) E2 glycoprotein (E2-661) was constructed and characterized. We show here that cells infected with the HSV/HCV recombinant virus efficiently express the HCV E2-661 protein. Most importantly, cellular and secreted E2-661 protein were both readily detected by the E2-conformational mAb H53 and despite the high expression levels, only limited amounts of misfolded aggregates were detected in either the cellular or secreted fractions. Furthermore, cell-associated and secreted E2-661 protein bound to the major extracellular loop (MEL) of CD81 in a concentration-dependent manner and both were highly reactive with sera from HCV-infected patients. Finally, BALB/c mice immunized intraperitoneally with the recombinant HSV/HCV virus induced high levels of anti-E2 antibodies. Analysis of the induced immunoglobulin G (IgG) isotypes showed high levels of IgG2a while the levels of the IgG1 isotype were significantly lower, suggesting a Th1-type of response. We conclude that the HSV-1 recombinant virus represents a promising tool for production of non-aggregated, immunologically active forms of the E2-661 protein and might have potential applications in vaccine development.