Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and type 2 (HSV-2) cause both persistent and latent infections, including recurrent cutaneous disease, lethal neonatal disease, central nervous system disease and other clinical syndromes1. Modified live vaccines or conventionally prepared subunit vaccines have generally been unsuccessful in the treatment of HSV-1 and HSV-2 infections from the standpoints of safety and efficacy2. It has been established that HSV-1 and HSV-2 infectivity may be neutralized in vitro with antisera directed specifically against each of the four major glycoproteins of the virus (gA/gB, gC, gD and gE)3,4 and antisera against glycoprotein gD, of either HSV-1 or HSV-2, are capable of neutralizing both HSV-1 and HSV-2 infectivity in vitro and in vivo5-8. We have previously reported on the identification, DNA sequence and expression at low level in Escherichia coli of the gD gene of HSV-1 strain Patton9. Here we describe construction of a hybrid gene encoding a chimaeric protein containing HSV-1 gD, bacteriophage λ Cro and E. coli β-galactosidase (gD-β-gal) protein, which is expressed at high level in E. coli. Moreover, the chimaeric protein elicits antibodies in rabbits that not only immunoprecipitate gD from cells infected with HSV-1 and HSV-2 but also neutralize HSV-1 and HSV-2 infectivity in vitro.
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