A SARS-CoV-2 RBD vaccine fused to the chemokine MIP-3α elicits sustained murine antibody responses over 12 months and enhanced lung T-cell responses

James Tristan Gordy, Yinan Hui, Courtney Schill, Tianyin Wang, Fengyixin Chen, Kaitlyn Fessler, Jacob Meza, Yangchen Li, Alannah D. Taylor, Rowan E. Bates, Petros C. Karakousis, Andrew Pekosz, Jaiprasath Sachithanandham, Maggie Li, Styliani Karanika, Richard B. Markham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Previous studies have demonstrated enhanced efficacy of vaccine formulations that incorporate the chemokine macrophage inflammatory protein 3α (MIP-3α) to direct vaccine antigens to immature dendritic cells. To address the reduction in vaccine efficacy associated with a mutation in severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) mutants, we have examined the ability of receptor-binding domain vaccines incorporating MIP-3α to sustain higher concentrations of antibody when administered intramuscularly (IM) and to more effectively elicit lung T-cell responses when administered intranasally (IN). Methods: BALB/c mice aged 6–8 weeks were immunized intramuscularly or intranasally with DNA vaccine constructs consisting of the SARS-CoV-2 receptor-binding domain alone or fused to the chemokine MIP-3α. In a small-scale (n = 3/group) experiment, mice immunized IM with electroporation were followed up for serum antibody concentrations over a period of 1 year and for bronchoalveolar antibody levels at the termination of the study. Following IN immunization with unencapsulated plasmid DNA (n = 6/group), mice were evaluated at 11 weeks for serum antibody concentrations, quantities of T cells in the lungs, and IFN-γ- and TNF-α-expressing antigen-specific T cells in the lungs and spleen. Results: At 12 months postprimary vaccination, recipients of the IM vaccine incorporating MIP-3α had significantly, approximately threefold, higher serum antibody concentrations than recipients of the vaccine not incorporating MIP-3α. The area-under-the-curve analyses of the 12-month observation interval demonstrated significantly greater antibody concentrations over time in recipients of the MIP-3α vaccine formulation. At 12 months postprimary immunization, only recipients of the fusion vaccine had concentrations of serum-neutralizing activity deemed to be effective. After intranasal immunization, only recipients of the MIP-3α vaccine formulations developed T-cell responses in the lungs significantly above those of PBS controls. Low levels of serum antibody responses were obtained following IN immunization. Conclusion: Although requiring separate IM and IN immunizations for optimal immunization, incorporating MIP-3α in a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine construct demonstrated the potential of a stable and easily produced vaccine formulation to provide the extended antibody and T-cell responses that may be required for protection in the setting of emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants. Without electroporation, simple, uncoated plasmid DNA incorporating MIP-3α administered intranasally elicited lung T-cell responses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1292059
JournalFrontiers in immunology
StatePublished - 2024


  • MIP-3α
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • T-cell response
  • antibody
  • dendritic cell
  • intranasal (IN)
  • neutralizing antibody
  • vaccine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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