Crude extracts of recombinant baculovirus expressing rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus 2 VLPs from both insect and rabbit cells protect rabbits from rabbit hemorrhagic disease caused by RHDV2.
Vaccines against viral pathogens are often composed of recombinant proteins expressed in different systems. Such proteins expressed by recombinant baculoviruses have been proven to be effective for vaccination. Especially, after codon usage optimization high amounts of recombinant viral proteins can be obtained which can assemble to virus like particles (VLPs) spontaneously. In this study we compared two different codon usages of RHDV2-VP1 to improve the expression of recombinant VP1 of RHDV2 by recombinant baculoviruses after infection of insect SF9 cells or transduction of mammalian RK13 cells in order to gain high protein yields. Also the influence on the auto-assembly of RHDV2-VP1 to VLPs was investigated. Finally, the immunogenic potential of such recombinant vaccines against RHDV2 to induce a protective immune response in rabbits against RHDV2 should be characterized. There was no influence of different codon usages on RHDV2-VP1 gene expression in the respective cell lines detected. However, in insect cell line SF9 higher rates of recombinant VP1 were measured in comparison to the transduction of mammalian cells RK13. Auto-assembly of RHDV2-VP1 to VLPs was observed in both cell systems by electron microscopy. Finally, both RHDV-VP1 VLPs derived from mammalian and insect cells were able to induce a protective humoral immune response in rabbits against RHDV2.