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Transmission Potential of Two Chimeric Chikungunya Vaccine Candidates in the Urban Mosquito Vectors, Aedes aegypti and Ae. albopictus

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  • Institute for Human Infections and Immunity, Sealy Center for Vaccine Development, Center for Tropical Diseases, and Department of Pathology, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas
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Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is an emerging, mosquito-borne alphavirus that has caused major epidemics in Africa and Asia. We developed chimeric vaccine candidates using the non-structural protein genes of either Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV) attenuated vaccine strain TC-83 or a naturally attenuated strain of eastern equine encephalitis virus (EEEV) and the structural genes of CHIKV. Because the transmission of genetically modified live vaccine strains is undesirable because of the potentially unpredictable evolution of these viruses as well as the potential for reversion, we evaluated the ability of these vaccines to infect the urban CHIKV vectors, Aedes aegypti and Ae. albopictus. Both vaccine candidates exhibited significantly lower infection and dissemination rates compared with the parent alphaviruses. Intrathoracic inoculations indicated that reduced infectivity was mediated by midgut infection barriers in both species. These results indicate a low potential for transmission of these vaccine strains in the event that a vaccinee became viremic.

Author Notes

*Address correspondence to Scott C. Weaver, Institute for Human Infections and Immunity, Sealy Center for Vaccine Development, Center for Tropical Diseases, and Department of Pathology, University of Texas Medical Branch, 301 University Boulevard, Galveston, TX 77555-0609. E-mail: sweaver@utmb.edu

Financial support: This work was supported by a grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) through the Western Regional Center of Excellence for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Disease Research and National Institutes of Health (NIH) Grant U54 AIO57156. J.R.D. was supported by a fellowship from the W. M. Keck Center for Virus Imaging. J.L.K. was supported by a fellowship for training in vector-borne infectious diseases from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (TO1/CCT622892) and the NIH-sponsored Emerging Infectious Diseases Training Program (T32-AI07536).

Authors' address: Justin R. Darwin, Joan L. Kenney, and Scott C. Weaver, Institute for Human Infections and Immunity, Sealy Center for Vaccine Development, Center for Tropical Diseases, and Department of Pathology, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX, E-mails: jrdarwin@UTMB.EDU, jlkenney@UTMB.EDU, andsweaver@utmb.edu.

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