Arch Virol (2002) 147: 597–606
Immunization with a plasmid DNA expressing rinderpest virus
hemagglutinin protein protects rabbits from lethal challenge
A. Joshi, B. Sharma
, A. C. Goel, and B. Mondal
National Project on Rinderpest Eradication, Indian Veterinary Research Institute,
Immunochemistry Laboratory, Division of Biochemistry and Food Sciences,
Indian Veterinary Research Institute, Izatnagar, Bareilly, India
Division of Virology, Indian Veterinary Research Institute, Mukteswar, Uttaranchal, India
Accepted November 8, 2001
Summary. Rinderpest virus haemagglutinin (H) protein was expressed in
eukaryotic cells and the plasmid encoding H gene was used for immunization
of rabbits. The immunized rabbits were completely protected from lethal chal-
lenge with virulent lapinized rinderpest virus. Similar results were also observed
in rabbits vaccinated with tissue culture rinderpest (TCRP) vaccine.About 80% of
control rabbits vaccinated with empty vector (mock-vaccinated) died after chal-
lenge. The thermal reactions and clinical symptoms were less intense in H-DNA
vaccinated rabbits as compared to the other two groups. Marked lymphopenia
was observed in TCRP and mock-vaccinated rabbits after challenge, however, the
H-DNA vaccinated rabbits showed lymphocytosis following challenge. The ap-
pearance of lymphocytosis in H-DNA vaccinated rabbits is an interesting ﬁnding
which needs further investigation.
Rinderpest (RP) is an acute febrile and contagious viral disease causing high mor-
tality in affected cattle and wild bovids. The rinderpest virus (RPV) belongs to the
genus morbillivirus, in the family paramyxoviridae and related to other members
in the genus viz., measles virus (MV), peste des petits ruminants virus, canine
distemper virus (CDV), phocid distemper virus and dolphin morbillivirus .
The genome of RPV contains six structural genes encoding fusion (F) protein,
haemagglutinin (H) protein, nucleocapsid protein (N), matrix protein (M), poly-
merase protein (L), phosphoprotein (P) and two nonstructural proteins (C and V).
The gene order from 3
on the genome is N-P/C/V-M-F-H-L .