Ns1 is a key protein in the vaccine composition to protect IFNAR(-/-) mice against infection with multiple serotypes of African horse sickness virus
African horse sickness virus (AHSV) belongs to the genus Orbivirus. We have now engineered naked DNAs and recombinant modified vaccinia virus Ankara (rMVA) expressing VP2 and NS1 proteins from AHSV-4. IFNAR((-/-)) mice inoculated with DNA/rMVA-VP2,-NS1 from AHSV-4 in an heterologous prime-boost vaccination strategy generated significant levels of neutralizing antibodies specific of AHSV-4. In addition, vaccination stimulated specific T cell responses against the virus. The vaccine elicited partial protection against an homologous AHSV-4 infection and induced cross-protection against the heterologous AHSV-9. Similarly, IFNAR((-/-)) mice vaccinated with an homologous prime-boost strategy with rMVA-VP2-NS1 from AHSV-4 developed neutralizing antibodies and protective immunity against AHSV-4. Furthermore, the levels of immunity were very high since none of vaccinated animals presented viraemia when they were challenged against the homologous AHSV-4 and very low levels when they were challenged against the heterologous virus AHSV-9. These data suggest that the immunization with rMVA/rMVA was more efficient in protection against a virulent challenge with AHSV-4 and both strategies, DNA/rMVA and rMVA/rMVA, protected against the infection with AHSV-9. The inclusion of the protein NS1 in the vaccine formulations targeting AHSV generates promising multiserotype vaccines.