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Volz, Asisa; Jany, Sylvia; Freudenstein, Astrid; Lantermann, Markus; Ludwig, Holger; Sutter, Gerd ORCID: 0000-0001-6143-082X (2018): E3L and F1L Gene Functions Modulate the Protective Capacity of Modified Vaccinia Virus Ankara Immunization in Murine Model of Human Smallpox. In: Viruses, Vol. 10, No. 1, 21


The highly attenuated Modified Vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) lacks most of the known vaccinia virus (VACV) virulence and immune evasion genes. Today MVA can serve as a safety-tested next-generation smallpox vaccine. Yet, we still need to learn about regulatory gene functions preserved in the MVA genome, such as the apoptosis inhibitor genes F1L and E3L. Here, we tested MVA vaccine preparations on the basis of the deletion mutant viruses MVA-F1L and MVA-E3L for efficacy against ectromelia virus (ECTV) challenge infections in mice. In non-permissive human tissue culture the MVA deletion mutant viruses produced reduced levels of the VACV envelope antigen B5. Upon mousepox challenge at three weeks after vaccination, MVA-F1L and MVA-E3L exhibited reduced protective capacity in comparison to wildtype MVA. Surprisingly, however, all vaccines proved equally protective against a lethal ECTV infection at two days after vaccination. Accordingly, the deletion mutant MVA vaccines induced high levels of virus-specific CD8+ T cells previously shown to be essential for rapidly protective MVA vaccination. These results suggest that inactivation of the anti-apoptotic genes F1L or E3L modulates the protective capacity of MVA vaccination most likely through the induction of distinct orthopoxvirus specific immunity in the absence of these viral regulatory proteins.