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Depledge D.P.,Center for Medical Molecular Virology | Kundu S.,Center for Medical Molecular Virology | Jensen N.J.,National VZV Reference Laboratory | Gray E.R.,Center for Medical Molecular Virology | And 8 more authors.
Molecular Biology and Evolution | Year: 2014

Immunization with the vOka vaccine prevents varicella (chickenpox) in children and susceptible adults. The vOka vaccine strain comprises a mixture of genotypes and, despite attenuation, causes rashes in small numbers of recipients. Like wild-type virus, the vaccine establishes latency in neuronal tissue and can later reactivate to cause Herpes zoster (shingles). Using hybridization-based methodologies, we have purified and sequenced vOka directly from skin lesions. We show that alleles present in the vaccine can be recovered from the lesions and demonstrate the presence of a severe bottleneck between inoculation and lesion formation. Genotypes in any one lesion appear to be descended from one to three vaccine-genotypes with a low frequency of novel mutations. No single vOka haplotype and no novel mutations are consistently present in rashes, indicating that neither new mutations nor recombination with wild type are critical to the evolution of vOka rashes. Instead, alleles arising from attenuation (i.e., not derived from free-living virus) are present at lower frequencies in rash genotypes. We identify 11 loci at which the ancestral allele is selected for in vOka rash formation and show genotypes in rashes that have reactivated from latency cannot be distinguished from rashes occurring immediately after inoculation. We conclude that the vOka vaccine, although heterogeneous, has not evolved to form rashes through positive selection in the mode of a quasispecies, but rather alleles that were essentially neutral during the vaccine production have been selected against in the human subjects, allowing us to identify key loci for rash formation. © 2013 The Author.


PubMed | Osaka University, Columbia University and Center for Medical Molecular Virology
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Journal of virology | Year: 2016

The continued success of the live attenuated varicella-zoster virus vaccine in preventing varicella-zoster and herpes zoster is well documented, as are many of the mutations that contribute to the attenuation of the vOka virus for replication in skin. At least three different preparations of vOka are marketed. Here, we show using deep sequencing of seven batches of vOka vaccine (including ZostaVax, VariVax, VarilRix, and the Oka/Biken working seed) from three different manufacturers (VariVax, GSK, and Biken) that 137 single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) mutations are present in all vaccine batches. This includes six sites at which the vaccine allele is fixed or near fixation, which we speculate are likely to be important for attenuation. We also show that despite differences in the vaccine populations between preparations, batch-to-batch variation is minimal, as is the number and frequency of mutations unique to individual batches. This suggests that the vaccine manufacturing processes are not introducing new mutations and that, notwithstanding the mixture of variants present, VZV live vaccines are extremely stable.The continued success of vaccinations to prevent chickenpox and shingles, combined with the extremely low incidence of adverse reactions, indicates the quality of these vaccines. The vaccine itself is comprised of a heterogeneous live attenuated virus population and thus requires deep-sequencing technologies to explore the differences and similarities in the virus populations between different preparations and batches of the vaccines. Our data demonstrate minimal variation between batches, an important safety feature, and provide new insights into the extent of the mutations present in this attenuated virus.

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