The wild-type hepatitis C virus core inhibits initiation of antigen-specific T- and B-cell immune responses in BALB/c mice.
ABSTRACT In this study, the effects of wild-type and deletion mutant hepatitis C virus (HCV) core proteins on the induction of immune responses in BALB/c mice were assessed. p2HA-C145-S23, encoding a core protein with the C-terminal 46 amino acids truncated, significantly produced stronger antibody and cellular responses than p2HA-C191-S23. The induction of immune responses by p2HA-C145-S23 was dose dependent. However, increasing the doses or repeated administration did not enhance immune responses by the wild-type core protein. In addition, p2HA-C191-S23 was apparently able to interfere with the priming of specific immune responses by p2HA-C145-S23 when the two were coadministered. These results demonstrated that the wild-type HCV core protein itself could inhibit the priming of immune responses in the course of a DNA vaccination, whereas the truncated HCV core protein could provide potential applications for the development of DNA- and peptide-based HCV vaccines.