Major immunogenic sites of foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) have been mapped to the C-terminal third of capsid protein VP1; we studied the immunogenicity of a series of TrpE-FMDV fusion proteins containing this region of FMDV strain O1 Campos. Fusion protein TrpE-dCN, which contains a dimer of VP1 amino acid sequences consisting of amino acids 200 to 213 linked by a diproline spacer to amino acids 141 to 158 (200-213~P-P-G~141-158), induced the best response. A single inoculation of guinea-pigs with 100 μg TrpE-dCN elicited high levels of neutralizing antibodies and protected all the animals against challenge infection with homologous virus. Although the closely related FMDV strains O1 Campos and O1 Caseros induced high levels of cross-protection, TrpE-dCN-vaccinated guinea-pigs were poorly protected against challenge infection with heterologous FMDV strain O1 Caseros. Nucleotide sequence analysis revealed that amino acid differences at residues 149 and 152 were critical for the induction of cross-protection and that neutralizing epitopes not present in TrpE-dCN are likely to be responsible for conferring a high level of cross-protection between FMDV strains O1 Campos and O1 Caseros.
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