Immunization with the Ixodes scapularis protein, subolesin, has previously been shown to protect hosts against tick infestation and to decrease acquisition of Anaplsma marginale and Babesia bigemina. Here we report the efficacy of subolesin, a conserved tick protein that can act as a regulator of gene expression, expressed from vaccinia virus for use as an orally delivered reservoir - targeted vaccine for prevention of tick infestation and acquisition/transmission of Borrelia burgdorferi to its tick and mouse hosts. We cloned subolesin into vaccinia virus and showed that it is expressed from mammalian cells infected with the recombinant virus in vitro. We then vaccinated mice by oral gavage. A single dose of the vaccine was sufficient for mice to generate antibody response to subolesin. Vaccination with the subolesin expressing vaccinia virus inhibited tick infestation by 52% compared to control vaccination with vaccinia virus and reduced uptake of B. burgdorferi among the surviving ticks that fed to repletion by 34%. There was a reduction in transmission of B. burgdorferi to uninfected vaccinated mice of 40% compared to controls. These results suggest that subolesin has potential as a component of a reservoir targeted vaccine to decrease B. burgdorferi, Babesia and Anaplasma species infections in their natural hosts.
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