Comparative Efficacy of Mayaro Virus-Like Particle Vaccines Produced in Insect or Mammalian Cells

Sandra R. Abbo, Wilson Nguyen, Marleen H.C. Abma-Henkens, Denise van de Kamer, Niek H.A. Savelkoul, Corinne Geertsema, Thuy T.T. Le, Bing Tang, Kexin Yan, Troy Dumenil, Monique M. van Oers, Andreas Suhrbier*, Gorben P. Pijlman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Mayaro virus (MAYV) is a mosquito-transmitted alphavirus that causes often debilitating rheumatic disease in tropical Central and South America. There are currently no licensed vaccines or antiviral drugs available for MAYV disease. Here, we generated Mayaro virus-like particles (VLPs) using the scalable baculovirus-insect cell expression system. High-level secretion of MAYV VLPs in the culture fluid of Sf9 insect cells was achieved, and particles with a diameter of 64 to 70 nm were obtained after purification. We characterize a C57BL/6J adult wild-type mouse model of MAYV infection and disease and used this model to compare the immunogenicity of VLPs from insect cells with that of VLPs produced in mammalian cells. Mice received two intramuscular immunizations with 1 μg of nonadjuvanted MAYV VLPs. Potent neutralizing antibody responses were generated against the vaccine strain, BeH407, with comparable activity seen against a contemporary 2018 isolate from Brazil (BR-18), whereas neutralizing activity against chikungunya virus was marginal. Sequencing of BR-18 illustrated that this virus segregates with genotype D isolates, whereas MAYV BeH407 belongs to genotype L. The mammalian cell-derived VLPs induced higher mean neutralizing antibody titers than those produced in insect cells. Both VLP vaccines completely protected adult wild-type mice against viremia, myositis, tendonitis, and joint inflammation after MAYV challenge. IMPORTANCE Mayaro virus (MAYV) is associated with acute rheumatic disease that can be debilitating and can evolve into months of chronic arthralgia. MAYV is believed to have the potential to emerge as a tropical public health threat, especially if it develops the ability to be efficiently transmitted by urban mosquito vectors, such as Aedes aegypti and/or Aedes albopictus. Here, we describe a scalable virus-like particle vaccine against MAYV that induced neutralizing antibodies against a historical and a contemporary isolate of MAYV and protected mice against infection and disease, providing a potential new intervention for MAYV epidemic preparedness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e0160122
JournalJournal of Virology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 30 Mar 2023


  • baculovirus
  • Mayaro virus
  • mouse model
  • vaccine
  • virus-like particle


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