Background: Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is the most common alphavirus infecting humans worldwide, causing acute and chronically debilitating arthralgia at a great economic expense.
Methodology/principal findings: To facilitate our study of CHIKV, we generated a mCherry tagged replication-competent chimeric virus, CHIKV 37997-mCherry. Single particle cryoEM demonstrated icosahedral organization of the chimeric virus and the display of mCherry proteins on virus surface. CHIKV 37997-mCherry is attenuated in both IFNαR knockout and wild-type mice. Strong anti-CHIKV and anti-mCherry antibody responses were induced in CHIKV 37997-mCherry infected mice.
Conclusions/significance: Our work suggests that chimeric alphaviruses displaying foreign antigen can serve as vaccines against both aphaviruses and other pathogens and diseases.