The immunogenicity of specific varicella-zoster virus (VZV) proteins, with emphasis upon cell-mediated immune responses, was evaluated by immunizing strain 2 guinea-pigs with vaccinia virus recombinants that express gpI (vac-gpI), gpIV (vac-gpIV) and gpV (vac-gpV) or the IE-62 protein (vac-IE-62). Vac-gpI elicited the highest initial mean T cell proliferation response [stimulation index (S.I.) 3.8 ± 0.9 ] whereas inoculation with vac-gpV produced the lowest primary T cell response (S.I. 2.5 ± 1.1 ). T cell proliferation was detected for a shorter period after immunization with vac-gpV compared to vac-gpI, vac-gpIV or vac-IE-62. A comparison of the immunogenicity of vac-gpI and vac-IE-62 with the same proteins prepared by immunoaffinity purification showed that immunization with these proteins in either form elicited virus-specific IgG antibodies and T cell recognition. The presence or absence of IgG antibodies to the IE-62 protein was used to assess protection against challenge with guinea-pig cell-adapted infectious VZV in animals that had been inoculated with vac-gpI, vac-gpIV or vac-gpV. Immunization with vac-gpI and vac-gpIV restricted VZV replication but all animals given vac-gpV developed antibodies to IE-62 after challenge with infectious VZV. Priming of the T lymphocyte response was observed in all animals immunized with VZV-vaccinia virus recombinants after subsequent exposure to infectious VZV. These experiments with VZV vac-gpI, vac-gpIV and vac-gpV in guinea-pigs suggest variability in the capacity of herpesviral glycoproteins to elicit cell-mediated immunity . Induction of virus-specific immunity using IE-62 means that this major tegument protein of VZV could be a useful component for vaccine development.


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