Hepatitis E virus (HEV), rotavirus (RV), and astrovirus (AstV) are important pathogens that transmit through a common fecal-oral route, causing hepatitis (HEV) and gastroenteritis (RV and AstV) respectively in humans. In this study, we developed and evaluated two subunit vaccine candidates that consisted of the same protruding or spike protein antigens of the three viruses in two formats, a fusion of the three antigens into one molecule (fused vaccine) vs. a mixture of the three free antigens together (mixed vaccine). Both vaccines were easily made via E. coli expression system. Mouse immunization experiments showed that the fused vaccine elicited significantly higher antibody responses against the three viral antigens than those induced by the mixed vaccine. In addition, the mouse post-immune antisera of the fused vaccine revealed significantly higher neutralizing titers against HEV infection in cell culture, as well as significantly higher 50% blocking titers (BT50) against RV VP8-HBGA receptor interactions than those of the post-immune antisera after immunization of the mixed vaccine. Thus, the fused vaccine is a promising trivalent vaccine candidate against HEV, RV, and AstV, which is worth for further development.
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