Immunization with recombinant ORF2 p551 protein protects common marmosets (Callithrix jacchus) against homologous and heterologous hepatitis E virus challenge

Ilya Gordeychuk (Coresponding Author), Karen Kyuregyan, Alla Kondrashova, Ekaterina Bayurova, Stanislav Gulyaev, Tatiana Gulyaeva, Ilya Potemkin, Anastasia Karlsen, Olga Isaeva, Alla Belyakova, Anna Lyashenko, Alexey Sorokin, Alexey Chumakov, Igor Morozov, Maria Isaguliants, Aydar Ishmukhametov, Mikhail Mikhailov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Hepatitis E virus (HEV) is a major causative agent of acute hepatitis worldwide, prompting continuous HEV vaccine efforts. Vaccine development is hampered by the lack of convenient animal models susceptible to infection with different HEV genotypes. We produced recombinant open reading frame 2 protein (pORF2; p551) of HEV genotype (GT) 3 and assessed its immunogenicity and protectivity against HEV challenge in common marmosets (Callithrix jacchus, CM). Methods: p551 with consensus sequence corresponding to amino acid residues 110–660 of HEV GT3 pORF2 was expressed in E. coli and purified by affinity chromatography. CMs were immunized intramuscularly with 20 μg of p551 VLPs with alum adjuvant (n = 4) or adjuvant alone (n = 2) at weeks 0, 3, 7 and 19. At week 27, p551-immunized and control animals were challenged with HEV GT1 or GT3 and thereafter longitudinally screened for markers of liver function, anti-HEV IgG and HEV RNA in feces and sera. Results: Purified p551 formed VLPs with particle size of 27.71 ± 2.42 nm. Two immunizations with p551 induced anti-HEV IgG mean titer of 1:1810. Immunized CMs challenged with homologous and heterologous HEV genotype did not develop HEV infection during the follow-up. Control CMs infected with both HEV GT1 and GT3 demonstrated signs of HEV infection with virus shedding and elevation of the levels of liver enzymes. High levels of anti-HEV IgG persisted in vaccinated CMs and control CMs that resolved HEV infection, for up to two years post challenge. Conclusions: CMs are shown to be a convenient laboratory animal model susceptible to infection with HEV GT1 and GT3. Immunization with HEV GT3 ORF2/p551 triggers potent anti-HEV antibody response protecting CMs from homologous and heterologous HEV challenge. This advances p551 in VLPs as a prototype vaccine against HEV.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-99
Number of pages11
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jan 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Bacterial expression system
  • Capsid protein
  • Hepatitis E virus
  • Nonhuman primates
  • Recombinant protein vaccine
  • Viral challenge

Field of Science*

  • 3.1 Basic medicine
  • 3.2 Clinical medicine

Publication Type*

  • 1.1. Scientific article indexed in Web of Science and/or Scopus database


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