Vaccination is essential in livestock farming and in companion animal ownership. Nucleic acid vaccines based on DNA or RNA provide an elegant alternative to those classical veterinary vaccines that have performed suboptimally. Recent advances in terms of rational design, safety, and efficacy have strengthened the position of nucleic acid vaccines in veterinary vaccinology. The present review focuses on replicon vaccines designed for veterinary use. Replicon vaccines are self-amplifying viral RNA sequences that, in addition to the sequence encoding the antigen of interest, contain all elements necessary for RNA replication. Vaccination results in high levels of in situ antigen expression and induction of potent immune responses. Both positive- and negative-stranded viruses have been used to construct replicons, and they can be delivered as RNA, DNA, or viral replicon particles. An introduction to the biology and the construction of different viral replicon vectors is given, and examples of veterinary replicon vaccine applications are discussed.


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