High-yield production of recombinant virus-like particles of enterovirus 71 in Pichia pastoris and their protective efficacy against oral viral challenge in mice.

PMID 25820068


Enterovirus 71 (EV71) is one of the major causative pathogens of hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD), which is highly prevalent in the Asia-Pacific regions. Severe HFMD cases with neurological complications and even death are often associated with EV71 infections. However, no licensed EV71 vaccine is currently available. Recombinant virus-like particles (VLPs) of EV71 have been produced and shown to be a promising vaccine candidate in preclinical studies. However, the performance of current recombinant expression systems for EV71 VLP production remains unsatisfactory with regard to VLP yield and manufacturing procedure, and thus hinders further product development. In this study, we evaluated the expression of EV71 VLPs in Pichia pastoris and determined their protective efficacy in mouse models of EV71 infections. We showed that EV71 VLPs could be produced at high levels up to 4.9% of total soluble protein in transgenic P. pastoris yeast co-expressing P1 and 3CD proteins of EV71. The resulting yeast-produced VLPs potently induced neutralizing antibodies against homologous and heterologous EV71 strains in mice. More importantly, maternal immunization with VLPs protected neonatal mice in both intraperitoneal and oral challenge experiments. Collectively, these results demonstrated the success of simple, high-yield production of EV71 VLPs in transgenic P. pastoris, thus lifting the major roadblock in commercial development of VLP-based EV71 vaccines.