Virology 2017 09 27512() 161-171 pii 10.1016/j.virol.2017.09.013
Lassa virus (LASV) causes severe hemorrhagic fever with high mortality, yet no vaccine currently exists. Antibodies targeting viral attachment proteins are crucial for protection against many viral infections. However, the envelope glycoprotein (GP)-1 of LASV elicits weak antibody responses due to extensive glycan shielding. Here, we explored a novel vaccine strategy to enhance humoral immunity against LASV GP1. Using structural information, we designed a recombinant GP1 immunogen, and then encapsulated it into oxidation-sensitive polymersomes (PS) as nanocarriers that promote intracellular MHCII loading. Mice immunized with adjuvanted PS (LASV GP1) showed superior humoral responses than free LASV GP1, including antibodies with higher binding affinity to virion GP1, increased levels of polyfunctional anti-viral CD4 T cells, and IgG-secreting B cells. PS (LASV GP1) elicited a more diverse epitope repertoire of anti-viral IgG. Together, these data demonstrate the potential of our nanocarrier vaccine platform for generating virus-specific antibodies against weakly immunogenic viral antigens.