African horsesickness virus serotype 4 (AHSV-4) outer capsid protein VP2, or VP2 and VP5 plus inner capsid protein VP7, derived from single or dual recombinant baculovirus expression vectors were used in different combinations to immunize horses. When the proteins were purified by affinity chromatography, the combination of all three proteins induced low levels of neutralizing antibodies and conferred protection against virulent virus challenge. However, purified VP2 or VP2 and VP5 in the absence of VP7 failed to induce neutralizing antibodies and protection. Immunization with non-purified proteins enhanced the titres of neutralizing antibodies. Again, the combination of the three proteins was able to confer total protection to immunized horses, which showed absence of viraemia. The antigenicity of recombinant VP2 was analysed with a collection of 30 MAbs. Both purified and unpurified recombinant VP2 proteins showed different antigenic patterns in comparison to that of VP2 on virions. An immunization experiment with four more horses confirmed these results. The vaccine described here would not only prevent the disease, but would drastically reduce the propagation of the virus by vectors.


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