Background: A dengue virus type 2 (DEN-2 Tonga/74) isolated from a 1974 epidemic was characterized by mild illness and belongs to the American genotype of DEN-2 viruses. To prepare a vaccine candidate, a previously described 30 nucleotide deletion (Delta30) in the 3' untranslated region of DEN-4 has been engineered into the DEN-2 isolate.
Methods: A full-length cDNA clone was generated from the DEN-2 virus and used to produce recombinant DEN-2 (rDEN-2) and rDEN2Delta30. Viruses were evaluated for replication in SCID mice transplanted with human hepatoma cells (SCID-HuH-7 mice), in mosquitoes, and in rhesus monkeys. Neutralizing antibody induction and protective efficacy were also assessed in rhesus monkeys.
Results: The rDEN2Delta30 virus was ten-fold reduced in replication in SCID-HuH-7 mice when compared to the parent virus. The rDEN-2 viruses were not infectious for Aedes mosquitoes, but both readily infected Toxorynchites mosquitoes. In rhesus monkeys, rDEN2Delta30 appeared to be slightly attenuated when compared to the parent virus as measured by duration and peak of viremia and neutralizing antibody induction. A derivative of rDEN2Delta30, designated rDEN2Delta30-4995, was generated by incorporation of a point mutation previously identified in the NS3 gene of DEN-4 and was found to be more attenuated than rDEN2Delta30 in SCID-HuH-7 mice.
Conclusions: The rDEN2Delta30 and rDEN2Delta30-4995 viruses can be considered for evaluation in humans and for inclusion in a tetravalent dengue vaccine.