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Single-Dose, Intranasal Immunization with Recombinant Parainfluenza Virus 5 Expressing Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) Spike Protein Protects Mice from Fatal MERS-CoV Infection

Published time: 07 April 2020

Authors: Kun Li, Zhuo Li, Christine Wohlford-Lenane, David K. Meyerholz, Rudragouda Channappanavar, Dong An, Stanley Perlman, Paul B. McCray Jr., Biao He

Keywords: COVID-19, MERS, coronavirus, vaccine


Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) can cause severe and fatal acute respiratory disease in humans and remains endemic in the Middle East since first being identified in 2012. There are currently no approved vaccines or therapies available for MERS-CoV. In this study, we evaluated parainfluenza virus 5 (PIV5)-based vaccine expressing the MERS-CoV envelope spike protein (PIV5/MERS-S) in a human DPP4 knockin C57BL/6 congenic mouse model (hDPP4 KI). Following a single-dose intranasal immunization, PIV5-MERS-S induced neutralizing antibody and robust T cell responses in hDPP4 KI mice. A single intranasal administration of 104 PFU PIV5-MERS-S provided complete protection against a lethal challenge with mouse-adapted MERS-CoV (MERSMA6.1.2) and improved virus clearance in the lung. In comparison, single-dose intramuscular immunization with 106 PFU UV-inactivated MERSMA6.1.2 mixed with Imject alum provided protection to only 25% of immunized mice. Intriguingly, an influx of eosinophils was observed only in the lungs of mice immunized with inactivated MERS-CoV, suggestive of a hypersensitivity-type response. Overall, our study indicated that PIV5-MERS-S is a promising effective vaccine candidate against MERS-CoV infection.

IMPORTANCE MERS-CoV causes lethal infection in humans, and there is no vaccine. Our work demonstrates that PIV5 is a promising vector for developing a MERS vaccine. Furthermore, success of PIV5-based MERS vaccine can be employed to develop a vaccine for emerging CoVs such as SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19.

Single-Dose Intranasal Immunization with Recombinant Parainfluenza Virus 5 Expressing



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