Objective: We have compared the gene expression and DNA immunization efficacy encoding prME and E proteins of a different strain (JaGAr-01) derived from Japanese encephalitis virus. This study aimed to construct a recombinant encoding E protein of the Beijing-1 strain derived from Japanese encephalitis virus and analyze the humoral, cellular and protective immunity induced by the above recombinant. Methods: The recombinant pJBE containing E (1,500 bps) gene from the Beijing-1 strain of Japanese encephalitis virus was constructed and then transfected into the HepG2 cell line by liposome fusion. The expression of E (about 53 kD) protein in transfected cells was analyzed by Western blot using a specific anti-JEV-E antibody. BALB/c mice were vaccinated with 3 µg of pJBE by the gene-gun technique. JaGAr-01 and Beijing-1 strains (105 PFU/100 µl) of Japanese encephalitis virus were given to BALB/c mice by intraperitoneal injection 3 weeks after double DNA immunization with a lethal virus challenge. BALB/c mice were observed for 21 days after challenge. An 80% plaque reduction neutralization test was performed to titrate the neutralization antibody before and after viral challenge. A lactate dehydrogenase activity release test was used to examine cytotoxic T lymphocyte activity after double DNA immunization. Results: The expression of about 53 kD protein associated with pJBE was determined in transfected HepG2 cells with specific anti-JEV-E antibody. A higher level of neutralization antibodies and the cytotoxicity effect were induced with pJBE immunization using the gene-gun technique, and were similar to those induced with inactivated vaccine derive from the Beijing-1 strain of Japanese encephalitis virus. Balb/c mice immunized with pJBE survived the challenge with the different strains of Japanese encephalitis virus; however, Balb/c mice immunized with inactivated vaccine did not survive the challenge with the JaGAr-01 strain of Japanese encephalitis virus at all. Conclusions: DNA vaccine containing the E protein gene derived from Japanese encephalitis virus can provide not only better efficacy including humoral and cellular immunity, but also cross-protection against infection with homologous and heterologous Japanese encephalitis virus.

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