Zika virus remains a threat to public health due to its close association with microcephaly and other severe birth defects. Drs. Shibo Jiang and Lanying Du of the Viral Immunology Laboratory of LKFRI, New York Blood Center, have identified a Zika subunit vaccine candidate that can protect newborn pups and immunocompromised mice from infection of Zika virus with divergent strains. Specifically, they found that the 111 amino acid long domain III (DIII) of the Zika virus envelope (E) protein induced highest titer and long-term neutralizing antibodies against infection with nine different Zika virus strains isolated from different hosts, countries and time periods, fully protecting pups against lethal challenge with epidemic strains when immunized with this candidate vaccine or given sera with neutralizing antibodies. Altogether, these exciting data suggest that DIII-based candidate vaccine holds promise for further development to prevent Zika virus infection in pregnant mothers and their fetuses and other high-risk populations. This study was published in Emerging Microbes & Infections (by Nature Publishing Group) on January 24, 2018. Dr. Wanbo Tai, a Research Fellow in the Viral Immunology Laboratory, is the first author of this paper, and was helped by Yufei Wang, a Master’s student from the lab; Drs. Shibo Jiang and Du are senior authors of the study.

Critical neutralizing fragment of Zika virus EDIII elicits cross-neutralization and protection against divergent Zika viruses.

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Wanbo Tai, Lei He, Yufei Wang, Shihun Sun, Guangyu Zhao, Chuming Luo, Pei Li, Haiyan Zhao, Daved H. Fremont, Fang Li, Shibo Jiang, Yusen Zhou & Lanying Du. Critical neutralizing fragment of Zika virus EDIII elicits cross-neutralization and protection against divergent Zika viruses.  Emerg Microbes Infect. 2018 Jan 24;7(1):7.

(A) Schematic structure of Zika virus (ZIKV) envelope (E) protein. DI, DII, and DIII, domain I, II, and III of E protein. S, stalk region. TM, transmembrane domain. (B) Constructed ZIKV EDIII proteins with a C-terminal Fc. (C) Structure of ZIKV E protein.