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Ahmadivand, Sohrab; Krpetic, Zeljka; Martínez, Merce Márquez; Garcia-Ordoñez, Marlid; Roher, Nerea; Palić, Dušan (2024): Self-assembling ferritin nanoplatform for the development of infectious hematopoietic necrosis virus vaccine. Frontiers in Immunology, 15: 1346512. ISSN 1664-3224

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Self-assembling protein nanoparticles are used as a novel vaccine design platform to improve the stability and immunogenicity of safe subunit vaccines, while providing broader protection against viral infections. Infectious Hematopoietic Necrosis virus (IHNV) is the causative agent of the WOAH-listed IHN diseases for which there are currently no therapeutic treatments and no globally available commercial vaccine. In this study, by genetically fusing the virus glycoprotein to the H. pylori ferritin as a scaffold, we constructed a self-assembling IHNV nanovaccine (FerritVac). Despite the introduction of an exogenous fragment, the FerritVac NPs show excellent stability same as Ferritin NPs under different storage, pH, and temperature conditions, mimicking the harsh gastrointestinal condition of the virus main host (trout). MTT viability assays showed no cytotoxicity of FerritVac or Ferritin NPs in zebrafish cell culture (ZFL cells) incubated with different doses of up to 100 µg/mL for 14 hours. FerritVac NPs also upregulated expression of innate antiviral immunity, IHNV, and other fish rhabdovirus infection gene markers (mx, vig1, ifit5, and isg-15) in the macrophage cells of the host. In this study, we demonstrate the development of a soluble recombinant glycoprotein of IHNV in the E. coli system using the ferritin self-assembling nanoplatform, as a biocompatible, stable, and effective foundation to rescue and produce soluble protein and enable oral administration and antiviral induction for development of a complete IHNV vaccine. This self-assembling protein nanocages as novel vaccine approach offers significant commercial potential for non-mammalian and enveloped viruses.

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