A dengue DNA vaccine candidate was developed and evaluated for immunogenicity in mice. The vaccine, designated pcD2ME, is a pcDNA3-based plasmid encoding the signal sequence of premembrane (prM), prM and envelope (E) genes of the New Guinea C strain of dengue type 2 virus. CHO-K1 cells transfected with pcD2ME expressed prM and E as determined by immunochemical staining with monoclonal antibodies. BALB/c mice inoculated intramuscularly with 100 microg of pcD2ME two or three times at an interval of 2 weeks developed a low level of neutralizing antibody (1:10 at a 90% plaque reduction). Immunization twice with 10 microg or 1 microg of pcD2ME or three times with 100 microg of pcDNA3 did not induce detectable levels of neutralizing antibody. Mice immunized two or three times with 100 microg of pcD2ME raised neutralizing antibody titers to 1:40 or greater on days 4 and 8 after challenge with 3x10(5) plaque forming units (PFU) of the New Guinea C strain of dengue type 2 virus, showing strong anamnestic responses to the challenge. In contrast, mice immunized two or three times with 100 microg of pcDNA3 developed no detectable neutralizing antibody on days 4 and 8 after challenge. These results indicate that immunization with pcD2ME induces neutralizing antibody and dengue type 2 virus-responsive memory B cells in mice.