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1.  Safety and Comparative Immunogenicity of an HIV-1 DNA Vaccine in Combination with Plasmid Interleukin 12 and Impact of Intramuscular Electroporation for Delivery 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2013;208(5):818-829.
Background. DNA vaccines have been very poorly immunogenic in humans but have been an effective priming modality in prime-boost regimens. Methods to increase the immunogenicity of DNA vaccines are needed.
Methods. HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN) studies 070 and 080 were multicenter, randomized, clinical trials. The human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) PENNVAX®-B DNA vaccine (PV) is a mixture of 3 expression plasmids encoding HIV-1 Clade B Env, Gag, and Pol. The interleukin 12 (IL-12) DNA plasmid expresses human IL-12 proteins p35 and p40. Study subjects were healthy HIV-1–uninfected adults 18–50 years old. Four intramuscular vaccinations were given in HVTN 070, and 3 intramuscular vaccinations were followed by electroporation in HVTN 080. Cellular immune responses were measured by intracellular cytokine staining after stimulation with HIV-1 peptide pools.
Results. Vaccination was safe and well tolerated. Administration of PV plus IL-12 with electroporation had a significant dose-sparing effect and provided immunogenicity superior to that observed in the trial without electroporation, despite fewer vaccinations. A total of 71.4% of individuals vaccinated with PV plus IL-12 plasmid with electroporation developed either a CD4+ or CD8+ T-cell response after the second vaccination, and 88.9% developed a CD4+ or CD8+ T-cell response after the third vaccination.
Conclusions. Use of electroporation after PV administration provided superior immunogenicity than delivery without electroporation. This study illustrates the power of combined DNA approaches to generate impressive immune responses in humans.
PMCID: PMC3733506  PMID: 23840043
vaccination; electroporation; plasmid cytokine adjuvant
2.  A Genome-wide Association Study of Host Genetic Determinants of the Antibody Response to Anthrax Vaccine Adsorbed 
Vaccine  2012;30(32):4778-4784.
Several lines of evidence have supported a host genetic contribution to vaccine response, but genome-wide assessments for specific determinants have been sparse. Here we describe a genome-wide association study (GWAS) of protective antigen-specific antibody (AbPA) responses among 726 European-Americans who received Anthrax Vaccine Adsorbed (AVA) as part of a clinical trial. After quality control, 736,996 SNPs were tested for association with the AbPA response to 3 or 4 AVA vaccinations given over a 6-month period. No SNP achieved the threshold of genome-wide significance (p=5x10−8), but suggestive associations (p<1x10−5) were observed for SNPs in or near the class II region of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC), in the promoter region of SPSB1, and adjacent to MEX3C. Multivariable regression modeling suggested that much of the association signal within the MHC corresponded to previously identified HLA DR-DQ haplotypes involving component HLA-DRB1 alleles of *15:01, *01:01, or *01:02. We estimated the proportion of additive genetic variance explained by common SNP variation for the AbPA response after the 6 month vaccination. This analysis indicated a significant, albeit imprecisely estimated, contribution of variation tagged by common polymorphisms (p=0.032). Future studies will be required to replicate these findings in European Americans and to further elucidate the host genetic factors underlying variable immune response to AVA.
PMCID: PMC3387748  PMID: 22658931
Anthrax vaccines; Bacillus anthracis; bacterial vaccines; vaccination; Genome-wide association study
3.  The Role of HLA DR-DQ Haplotypes in Variable Antibody Responses to Anthrax Vaccine Adsorbed 
Genes and immunity  2011;12(6):457-465.
Host genetic variation, particularly within the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) loci, reportedly mediates heterogeneity in immune response to certain vaccines; however, no large study of genetic determinants of anthrax vaccine response has been described. We searched for associations between the IgG antibody to protective antigen (AbPA) response to Anthrax Vaccine Adsorbed (AVA) in humans and polymorphisms at HLA class I (HLA-A, -B, and -C) and class II (HLA-DRB1, -DQA1, -DQB1, -DPB1) loci. The study included 794 European-Americans and 200 African-Americans participating in a 43-month, double-blind, placebo-controlled, clinical trial of AVA ( identifier NCT00119067). Among European-Americans, genes from tightly linked HLA-DRB1-DQA1-DQB1 haplotypes displayed significant overall associations with longitudinal variation in AbPA levels at 4, 8, 26, and 30 weeks from baseline in response to vaccination with 3 or 4 doses of AVA (global p=6.53×10−4). In particular, carriage of the DRB1-DQA1-DQB1 haplotypes *1501-*0102-*0602 (p=1.17×10−5), *0101-*0101-*0501 (p=0.009), and *0102-*0101-*0501 (p=0.006) was associated with significantlylower AbPA levels. In carriers of two copies of these haplotypes, lower AbPA levels persisted following subsequent vaccinations. No significant associations were observed amongst African-Americans or for any HLA class I allele/haplotype. Further studies will be required to replicate these findings and to explore the role of host genetic variation outside of the HLA region.
PMCID: PMC3165112  PMID: 21368772
Anthrax vaccines; Bacillus anthracis; Bacterial vaccines; Vaccination; HLA Antigens
4.  Safety and Immunogenicity of a CTL Multiepitope Peptide Vaccine for HIV with or without GM-CSF in a Phase I Trial 
Vaccine  2008;27(2):243-249.
There is an urgent need for a vaccine capable of preventing HIV infection or the development of HIV-related disease. A number of approaches designed to stimulate HIV-specific CD8+ cytotoxic T cell responses together with helper responses are presently under evaluation. In this phase 1, multi-center, placebo-controlled trial, we tested the ability of a novel multi-epitope peptide vaccine to elicit HIV-specific immunity. To enhance the immunogenicity of the peptide vaccine, half of the vaccine recipients received recombinant GM-CSF protein as a co-adjuvant. The vaccine was safe; tolerability was moderate, with a number of adverse events related to local injection site reactogenicity. Anti-GM-CSF antibody responses developed in the majority of GM-CSF recipients but were not associated with adverse hematologic events. The vaccine was only minimally immunogenic. Six of 80 volunteers who received vaccine developed HIV-specific responses as measured by interferon-gamma ELISPOT assay, and measurable responses were transient. This study failed to demonstrate that GM-CSF can substantially improve the overall weak immunogenicity of a multiepitope peptide-based HIV vaccine.
PMCID: PMC2692338  PMID: 18996425
5.  HIV-189.6 Gag Expressed from a Replication Competent HSV-1 Vector Elicits Persistent Cellular Immune Responses in Mice 
Vaccine  2007;25(37-38):6764-6773.
We have constructed a replication competent, γ134.5-deleted Herpes Simplex Virus type 1 (HSV-1) vector (J200) that expresses the gag gene from Human Immunodeficiency Virus type-1, primary isolate 89.6 (HIV-189.6), as a candidate vaccine for HIV-1. J200 replicates in vitro, resulting in abundant Gag protein production and accumulation in the extracellular media. Immunization of Balb/c mice with a single intraperitoneal injection of J200 elicited strong Gag-specific CD8 responses, as measured by intracellular IFN-γ staining and flow cytometry analysis. Responses were highest between 6 weeks and 4 months, but persisted at 9 months post-immunization, the last time-point evaluated. These data highlight the potential utility of neuroattenuated, replication-competent HSV-1 vectors for delivery of HIV-1 immunogens.
PMCID: PMC2084203  PMID: 17706843
HSV-1 vaccine vector; Gag; HIV-1 vaccine
6.  Analysis of Mason-Pfizer Monkey Virus Gag Particles by Scanning Transmission Electron Microscopy 
Journal of Virology  2001;75(19):9543-9548.
Mason-Pfizer monkey virus immature capsids selected from the cytoplasm of baculovirus-infected cells were imaged by scanning transmission electron microscopy. The masses of individual selected Gag particles were measured, and the average mass corresponded to 1,900 to 2,100 Gag polyproteins per particle. A large variation in Gag particle mass was observed within each population measured.
PMCID: PMC114523  PMID: 11533218
7.  A Cell-Line-Specific Defect in the Intracellular Transport and Release of Assembled Retroviral Capsids 
Journal of Virology  2000;74(2):784-795.
Retrovirus assembly involves a complex series of events in which a large number of proteins must be targeted to a point on the plasma membrane where immature viruses bud from the cell. Gag polyproteins of most retroviruses assemble an immature capsid on the cytoplasmic side of the plasma membrane during the budding process (C-type assembly), but a few assemble immature capsids deep in the cytoplasm and are then transported to the plasma membrane (B- or D-type assembly), where they are enveloped. With both assembly phenotypes, Gag polyproteins must be transported to the site of viral budding in either a relatively unassembled form (C type) or a completely assembled form (B and D types). The molecular nature of this transport process and the host cell factors that are involved have remained obscure. During the development of a recombinant baculovirus/insect cell system for the expression of both C-type and D-type Gag polyproteins, we discovered an insect cell line (High Five) with two distinct defects that resulted in the reduced release of virus-like particles. The first of these was a pronounced defect in the transport of D-type but not C-type Gag polyproteins to the plasma membrane. High Five cells expressing wild-type Mason-Pfizer monkey virus (M-PMV) Gag precursors accumulate assembled immature capsids in large cytoplasmic aggregates similar to a transport-defective mutant (MA-A18V). In contrast, a larger fraction of the Gag molecules encoded by the M-PMV C-type morphogenesis mutant (MA-R55W) and those of human immunodeficiency virus were transported to the plasma membrane for assembly and budding of virions. When pulse-labeled Gag precursors from High Five cells were fractionated on velocity gradients, they sedimented more rapidly, indicating that they are sequestered in a higher-molecular-mass complex. Compared to Sf9 insect cells, the High Five cells also demonstrate a defect in the release of C-type virus particles. These findings support the hypothesis that host cell factors are important in the process of Gag transport and in the release of enveloped viral particles.
PMCID: PMC111598  PMID: 10623740

Results 1-7 (7)