Published online Oct 15, 2004. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v10.i20.2989
Revised: April 23, 2004
Accepted: April 13, 2004
Published online: October 15, 2004
AIM: Immune escape mutations of HBV often occur in the dominant epitope, the second-loop of the a determinant of hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg). To let the hosts respond to the subdominant epitopes in HBsAg may be an effective way to decrease the prevalence of immune escape mutants. For this reason, a man-made clone of HBV S gene with the second-loop deletion was constructed. Its antigenicity was evaluated by yeast expression analysis and DNA immunization in mice.
METHODS: HBV S gene with deleted second-loop, amino acids from 139 to 145, was generated using splicing by overlap extension. HBV deleted S gene was then cloned into the yeast expression vector pPIC9 and the mammalian expression vector pcDNA3 to generate pHB-SDY and pHB-SD, respectively. The complete S gene was cloned into the same vectors as controls. The deleted recombinant HBsAg expressed in yeasts was detected using Abbott IMx HBsAg test kits, enzyme-linked immunoadsorbent assay (ELISA) and immune dot blotting to evaluate its antigenicity in vitro. The anti-HBs responses to DNA immunization in BALB/c mice were detected using Abbott IMx AUSAB test kits to evaluate the antigenicity of that recombinant protein in vivo.
RESULTS: Both deleted and complete HBsAg were successfully expressed in yeasts. They were intracellular expressions. The deleted HBsAg could not be detected by ELISA, in which the monoclonal anti-HBs against the α determinant was used, but could be detected by Abbott IMx and immune dot blotting, in which multiple monoclonal anti-HBs and polyclonal anti-HBs were used, respectively. The activity of the deleted HBsAg detected by Abbott IMx was much lower than that of complete HBsAg (the ratio of sample value/cut off value, 106 ± 26.7 vs 1814.4 ± 776.3, P < 0.01, t = 5.02). The anti-HBs response of pHB-SD to DNA immunization was lower than that of complete HBV S gene vector pHB (the positive rate 2/10 vs 6/10, 4.56 ± 3.52 mIU/mL vs 27.60 ± 17.3 mIU/mL, P = 0.02, t = 2.7).
CONCLUSIONS: HBsAg with deleted second-loop of the α determinant still has antigenicity, and can also raise weak anti-HBs response in mice to DNA immunization, suggesting that it is possible to develop a subdominant vaccine for preventing infections of immune escape mutants of HBV.