The flavivirus envelope protein domain III (EDIII) was an effective immunogen against dengue virus (DENV) and other related flaviviruses. Whether this can be applied to the Zika virus (ZIKV) vaccinology remains an open question. Here, we tested the efficacy of ZIKV-EDIII against ZIKV infection, using several vaccine platforms that present the antigen in various ways. We provide data demonstrating that mice vaccinated with a ZIKV-EDIII as DNA or protein-based vaccines failed to raise fully neutralizing antibodies and did not control viremia, following a ZIKV challenge, despite eliciting robust antibody responses. Furthermore, we showed that ZIKV-EDIII encoded in replication-deficient Chimpanzee adenovirus (ChAdOx1-EDIII) elicited anti-ZIKV envelope antibodies in vaccinated mice but also provided limited protection against ZIKV in two physiologically different mouse challenge models. Taken together, our data indicate that contrary to what was shown for other flaviviruses like the dengue virus, which has close similarities with ZIKV-EDIII, this antigen might not be a suitable vaccine candidate for the correct induction of protective immune responses against ZIKV.
The Jenner Institute, Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford, The Henry Wellcome Building for Molecular Physiology, Roosevelt Drive, Oxford OX3 7BN, UK.