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1.  Structural basis for diverse N-glycan recognition by HIV-1–neutralizing V1–V2–directed antibody PG16 
HIV-1 uses a diverse N-linked-glycan shield to evade recognition by antibody. Select human antibodies, such as the clonally related PG9 and PG16, recognize glycopeptide epitopes in the HIV-1 V1–V2 region and penetrate this shield, but their ability to accommodate diverse glycans is unclear. Here we report the structure of antibody PG16 bound to a scaffolded V1–V2, showing an epitope comprising both high mannose–type and complex-type N-linked glycans. We combined structure, NMR and mutagenesis analyses to characterize glycan recognition by PG9 and PG16. Three PG16-specific residues, arginine, serine and histidine (RSH), were critical for binding sialic acid on complex-type glycans, and introduction of these residues into PG9 produced a chimeric antibody with enhanced HIV-1 neutralization. Although HIV-1–glycan diversity facilitates evasion, antibody somatic diversity can overcome this and can provide clues to guide the design of modified antibodies with enhanced neutralization.
PMCID: PMC4046252  PMID: 23708607
2.  Therapeutic Vaccination Expands and Improves the Function of the HIV-Specific Memory T-Cell Repertoire 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2013;207(12):1829-1840.
Background. The licensing of herpes zoster vaccine has demonstrated that therapeutic vaccination can help control chronic viral infection. Unfortunately, human trials of immunodeficiency virus (HIV) vaccine have shown only marginal efficacy.
Methods. In this double-blind study, 17 HIV-infected individuals with viral loads of <50 copies/mL and CD4+ T-cell counts of >350 cells/µL were randomly assigned to the vaccine or placebo arm. Vaccine recipients received 3 intramuscular injections of HIV DNA (4 mg) coding for clade B Gag, Pol, and Nef and clade A, B, and C Env, followed by a replication-deficient adenovirus type 5 boost (1010 particle units) encoding all DNA vaccine antigens except Nef. Humoral, total T-cell, and CD8+ cytotoxic T-lymphocyte (CTL) responses were studied before and after vaccination. Single-copy viral loads and frequencies of latently infected CD4+ T cells were determined.
Results. Vaccination was safe and well tolerated. Significantly stronger HIV-specific T-cell responses against Gag, Pol, and Env, with increased polyfunctionality and a broadened epitope-specific CTL repertoire, were observed after vaccination. No changes in single-copy viral load or the frequency of latent infection were observed.
Conclusions. Vaccination of individuals with existing HIV-specific immunity improved the magnitude, breadth, and polyfunctionality of HIV-specific memory T-cell responses but did not impact markers of viral control.
Clinical Trials Registration. NCT00270465
PMCID: PMC3654747  PMID: 23482645
HIV; vaccination; therapy; cytotoxic T lymphocytes; humoral immunity; viral latency
3.  Comparative Analysis of the Magnitude, Quality, Phenotype and Protective Capacity of SIV Gag-Specific CD8+ T Cells Following Human-, Simian- and Chimpanzee-Derived Recombinant Adenoviral Vector Immunisation 
Recombinant adenoviral vectors (rAds) are the most potent recombinant vaccines for eliciting CD8+ T cell-mediated immunity in humans; however, prior exposure from natural adenoviral infection can decrease such responses. Here we show low seroreactivity in humans against simian- (sAd11, sAd16), or chimpanzee-derived (chAd3, chAd63) compared to human-derived (rAd5, rAd28, rAd35) vectors across multiple geographic regions. We then compared the magnitude, quality, phenotype and protective capacity of CD8+ T cell responses in mice vaccinated with rAds encoding SIV Gag. Using a dose range (1 × 107 to 109 PU), we defined a hierarchy among rAd vectors based on the magnitude and protective capacity of CD8+ T cell responses, from most to least as: rAd5 and chAd3, rAd28 and sAd11, chAd63, sAd16, and rAd35. Selection of rAd vector or dose could modulate the proportion and/or frequency of IFNγ+TNFα+IL-2+ and KLRG1+CD127- CD8+ T cells, but strikingly ~30–80% of memory CD8+ T cells co-expressed CD127 and KLRG1. To further optimise CD8+ T cell responses, we assessed rAds as part of prime-boost regimens. Mice primed with rAds and boosted with NYVAC generated Gag-specific responses that approached ~60% of total CD8+ T cells at peak. Alternatively, priming with DNA or rAd28 and boosting with rAd5 or chAd3 induced robust and equivalent CD8+ T cell responses compared to prime or boost alone. Collectively, these data provide the immunologic basis for using specific rAd vectors alone or as part of prime-boost regimens to induce CD8+ T cells for rapid effector function or robust long-term memory, respectively.
PMCID: PMC3594325  PMID: 23390298
4.  Phase I Randomized Clinical Trial of VRC DNA and rAd5 HIV-1 Vaccine Delivery by Intramuscular (IM), Subcutaneous (SC) and Intradermal (ID) Administration (VRC 011) 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e91366.
Phase 1 evaluation of the VRC HIV DNA and rAd5 vaccines delivered intramuscularly (IM) supported proceeding to a Phase 2 b efficacy study. Here we report comparison of the IM, subcutaneous (SC) and intradermal (ID) routes of administration.
Sixty subjects were randomized to 6 schedules to evaluate the IM, SC or ID route for prime injections. Three schedules included DNA primes (Wks 0,4,8) and 3 schedules included rAd5 prime (Wk0); all included rAd5 IM boost (Wk24). DNA vaccine dosage was 4 mg IM or SC, but 0.4 mg ID, while all rAd5 vaccinations were 1010 PU. All injections were administered by needle and syringe.
Overall, 27/30 subjects completed 3 DNA primes; 30/30 subjects completed rAd5 primes. Mild local pruritus (itchiness), superficial skin lesions and injection site nodules were associated with ID and SC, but not IM injections. All routes induced T-cell and antibody immune responses after rAd5 boosting. Overall, >95% had Env antibody and >80% had Env T-cell responses.
The pattern of local reactogenicity following ID and SC injections differed from IM injections but all routes were well-tolerated. There was no evidence of an immunogenicity advantage following SC or ID delivery, supporting IM delivery as the preferred route of administration.
Trial Registration NCT00321061
PMCID: PMC3951381  PMID: 24621858
5.  Residue-Level Prediction of HIV-1 Antibody Epitopes Based on Neutralization of Diverse Viral Strains 
Journal of Virology  2013;87(18):10047-10058.
Delineation of antibody epitopes at the residue level is key to understanding antigen resistance mutations, designing epitope-specific probes for antibody isolation, and developing epitope-based vaccines. Ideally, epitope residues are determined in the context of the atomic-level structure of the antibody-antigen complex, though structure determination may in many cases be impractical. Here we describe an efficient computational method to predict antibody-specific HIV-1 envelope (Env) epitopes at the residue level, based on neutralization panels of diverse viral strains. The method primarily utilizes neutralization potency data over a set of diverse viral strains representing the antigen, and enhanced accuracy could be achieved by incorporating information from the unbound structure of the antigen. The method was evaluated on 19 HIV-1 Env antibodies with neutralization panels comprising 181 diverse viral strains and with available antibody-antigen complex structures. Prediction accuracy was shown to improve significantly over random selection, with an average of greater-than-8-fold enrichment of true positives at the 0.05 false-positive rate level. The method was used to prospectively predict epitope residues for two HIV-1 antibodies, 8ANC131 and 8ANC195, for which we experimentally validated the predictions. The method is inherently applicable to antigens that exhibit sequence diversity, and its accuracy was found to correlate inversely with sequence conservation of the epitope. Together the results show how knowledge inherent to a neutralization panel and unbound antigen structure can be utilized for residue-level prediction of antibody epitopes.
PMCID: PMC3753990  PMID: 23843642
6.  The Thai Phase III HIV Type 1 Vaccine Trial (RV144) Regimen Induces Antibodies That Target Conserved Regions Within the V2 Loop of gp120 
AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses  2012;28(11):1444-1457.
The Thai Phase III clinical trial (RV144) showed modest efficacy in preventing HIV-1 acquisition. Plasma collected from HIV-1-uninfected trial participants completing all injections with ALVAC-HIV (vCP1521) prime and AIDSVAX B/E boost were tested for antibody responses against HIV-1 gp120 envelope (Env). Peptide microarray analysis from six HIV-1 subtypes and group M consensus showed that vaccination induced antibody responses to the second variable (V2) loop of gp120 of multiple subtypes. We further evaluated V2 responses by ELISA and surface plasmon resonance using cyclic (Cyc) and linear V2 loop peptides. Thirty-one of 32 vaccine recipients tested (97%) had antibody responses against Cyc V2 at 2 weeks postimmunization with a reciprocal geometric mean titer (GMT) of 1100 (range: 200–3200). The frequency of detecting plasma V2 antibodies declined to 19% at 28 weeks post-last injection (GMT: 110, range: 100–200). Antibody responses targeted the mid-region of the V2 loop that contains conserved epitopes and has the amino acid sequence KQKVHALFYKLDIVPI (HXB2 Numbering sequence 169–184). Valine at position 172 was critical for antibody binding. The frequency of V3 responses at 2 weeks postimmunization was modest (18/32, 56%) with a GMT of 185 (range: 100–800). In contrast, naturally infected HIV-1 individuals had a lower frequency of antibody responses to V2 (10/20, 50%; p=0.003) and a higher frequency of responses to V3 (19/20, 95%), with GMTs of 400 (range: 100–3200) and 3570 (range: 200–12,800), respectively. RV144 vaccination induced antibodies that targeted a region of the V2 loop that contains conserved epitopes. Early HIV-1 transmission events involve V2 loop interactions, raising the possibility that anti-V2 antibodies in RV144 may have contributed to viral inhibition.
PMCID: PMC3484815  PMID: 23035746
7.  Plasma IgG to Linear Epitopes in the V2 and V3 Regions of HIV-1 gp120 Correlate with a Reduced Risk of Infection in the RV144 Vaccine Efficacy Trial 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e75665.
Neutralizing and non-neutralizing antibodies to linear epitopes on HIV-1 envelope glycoproteins have potential to mediate antiviral effector functions that could be beneficial to vaccine-induced protection. Here, plasma IgG responses were assessed in three HIV-1 gp120 vaccine efficacy trials (RV144, Vax003, Vax004) and in HIV-1-infected individuals by using arrays of overlapping peptides spanning the entire consensus gp160 of all major genetic subtypes and circulating recombinant forms (CRFs) of the virus. In RV144, where 31.2% efficacy against HIV-1 infection was seen, dominant responses targeted the C1, V2, V3 and C5 regions of gp120. An analysis of RV144 case-control samples showed that IgG to V2 CRF01_AE significantly inversely correlated with infection risk (OR= 0.54, p=0.0042), as did the response to other V2 subtypes (OR=0.60-0.63, p=0.016-0.025). The response to V3 CRF01_AE also inversely correlated with infection risk but only in vaccine recipients who had lower levels of other antibodies, especially Env-specific plasma IgA (OR=0.49, p=0.007) and neutralizing antibodies (OR=0.5, p=0.008). Responses to C1 and C5 showed no significant correlation with infection risk. In Vax003 and Vax004, where no significant protection was seen, serum IgG responses targeted the same epitopes as in RV144 with the exception of an additional C1 reactivity in Vax003 and infrequent V2 reactivity in Vax004. In HIV-1 infected subjects, dominant responses targeted the V3 and C5 regions of gp120, as well as the immunodominant domain, heptad repeat 1 (HR-1) and membrane proximal external region (MPER) of gp41. These results highlight the presence of several dominant linear B cell epitopes on the HIV-1 envelope glycoproteins. They also generate the hypothesis that IgG to linear epitopes in the V2 and V3 regions of gp120 are part of a complex interplay of immune responses that contributed to protection in RV144.
PMCID: PMC3784573  PMID: 24086607
8.  DNA Vaccine Delivered by a Needle-Free Injection Device Improves Potency of Priming for Antibody and CD8+ T-Cell Responses after rAd5 Boost in a Randomized Clinical Trial 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e59340.
DNA vaccine immunogenicity has been limited by inefficient delivery. Needle-free delivery of DNA using a CO2-powered Biojector® device was compared to delivery by needle and syringe and evaluated for safety and immunogenicity.
Forty adults, 18–50 years, were randomly assigned to intramuscular (IM) vaccinations with DNA vaccine, VRC-HIVDNA016-00-VP, (weeks 0, 4, 8) by Biojector® 2000™ or needle and syringe (N/S) and boosted IM at week 24 with VRC-HIVADV014-00-VP (rAd5) with N/S at 1010 or 1011 particle units (PU). Equal numbers per assigned schedule had low (≤500) or high (>500) reciprocal titers of preexisting Ad5 neutralizing antibody.
120 DNA and 39 rAd5 injections were given; 36 subjects completed follow-up research sample collections. IFN-γ ELISpot response rates were 17/19 (89%) for Biojector® and 13/17 (76%) for N/S delivery at Week 28 (4 weeks post rAd5 boost). The magnitude of ELISpot response was about 3-fold higher in Biojector® compared to N/S groups. Similar effects on response rates and magnitude were observed for CD8+, but not CD4+ T-cell responses by ICS. Env-specific antibody responses were about 10-fold higher in Biojector-primed subjects.
DNA vaccination by Biojector® was well-tolerated and compared to needle injection, primed for greater IFN-γ ELISpot, CD8+ T-cell, and antibody responses after rAd5 boosting.
Trial Registration NCT00109629
PMCID: PMC3620125  PMID: 23577062
9.  Analysis of V2 Antibody Responses Induced in Vaccinees in the ALVAC/AIDSVAX HIV-1 Vaccine Efficacy Trial 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e53629.
The RV144 clinical trial of a prime/boost immunizing regimen using recombinant canary pox (ALVAC-HIV) and two gp120 proteins (AIDSVAX B and E) was previously shown to have a 31.2% efficacy rate. Plasma specimens from vaccine and placebo recipients were used in an extensive set of assays to identify correlates of HIV-1 infection risk. Of six primary variables that were studied, only one displayed a significant inverse correlation with risk of infection: the antibody (Ab) response to a fusion protein containing the V1 and V2 regions of gp120 (gp70-V1V2). This finding prompted a thorough examination of the results generated with the complete panel of 13 assays measuring various V2 Abs in the stored plasma used in the initial pilot studies and those used in the subsequent case-control study. The studies revealed that the ALVAC-HIV/AIDSVAX vaccine induced V2-specific Abs that cross-react with multiple HIV-1 subgroups and recognize both conformational and linear epitopes. The conformational epitope was present on gp70-V1V2, while the predominant linear V2 epitope mapped to residues 165–178, immediately N-terminal to the putative α4β7 binding motif in the mid-loop region of V2. Odds ratios (ORs) were calculated to compare the risk of infection with data from 12 V2 assays, and in 11 of these, the ORs were ≤1, reaching statistical significance for two of the variables: Ab responses to gp70-V1V2 and to overlapping V2 linear peptides. It remains to be determined whether anti-V2 Ab responses were directly responsible for the reduced infection rate in RV144 and whether anti-V2 Abs will prove to be important with other candidate HIV vaccines that show efficacy, however, the results support continued dissection of Ab responses to the V2 region which may illuminate mechanisms of protection from HIV-1 infection and may facilitate the development of an effective HIV-1 vaccine.
PMCID: PMC3547933  PMID: 23349725
10.  Immune-Correlates Analysis of an HIV-1 Vaccine Efficacy Trial 
The New England Journal of Medicine  2012;366(14):1275-1286.
In the RV144 trial, the estimated efficacy of a vaccine regimen against human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) was 31.2%. We performed a case–control analysis to identify antibody and cellular immune correlates of infection risk.
In pilot studies conducted with RV144 blood samples, 17 antibody or cellular assays met prespecified criteria, of which 6 were chosen for primary analysis to determine the roles of T-cell, IgG antibody, and IgA antibody responses in the modulation of infection risk. Assays were performed on samples from 41 vaccinees who became infected and 205 uninfected vaccinees, obtained 2 weeks after final immunization, to evaluate whether immune-response variables predicted HIV-1 infection through 42 months of follow-up.
Of six primary variables, two correlated significantly with infection risk: the binding of IgG antibodies to variable regions 1 and 2 (V1V2) of HIV-1 envelope proteins (Env) correlated inversely with the rate of HIV-1 infection (estimated odds ratio, 0.57 per 1-SD increase; P = 0.02; q = 0.08), and the binding of plasma IgA antibodies to Env correlated directly with the rate of infection (estimated odds ratio, 1.54 per 1-SD increase; P = 0.03; q = 0.08). Neither low levels of V1V2 antibodies nor high levels of Env-specific IgA antibodies were associated with higher rates of infection than were found in the placebo group. Secondary analyses suggested that Env-specific IgA antibodies may mitigate the effects of potentially protective antibodies.
This immune-correlates study generated the hypotheses that V1V2 antibodies may have contributed to protection against HIV-1 infection, whereas high levels of Env-specific IgA antibodies may have mitigated the effects of protective antibodies. Vaccines that are designed to induce higher levels of V1V2 antibodies and lower levels of Env-specific IgA antibodies than are induced by the RV144 vaccine may have improved efficacy against HIV-1 infection.
PMCID: PMC3371689  PMID: 22475592
11.  HIV-1 Neutralization Coverage Is Improved by Combining Monoclonal Antibodies That Target Independent Epitopes 
Journal of Virology  2012;86(6):3393-3397.
HIV-1 neutralizing monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) define key targets for vaccine development and are being considered for passive prevention of infection. We analyzed the interaction of MAbs to two independent epitopes on the viral envelope glycoprotein. Potently neutralizing MAbs to the CD4 binding site and V1V2 region displayed no in vitro cross-competition and displayed additive, though not synergistic, neutralization activity. Predicted neutralization coverage of a combination of two MAbs reached 97% on a 208-isolate panel.
PMCID: PMC3302320  PMID: 22258252
12.  A West Nile Virus DNA Vaccine Utilizing a Modified Promoter Induces Neutralizing Antibody in Younger and Older Healthy Adults in a Phase I Clinical Trial 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2011;203(10):1396-1404.
Background. West Nile virus (WNV) is a flavivirus that causes meningitis and encephalitis. There are no licensed vaccines to prevent WNV in humans. The safety and immunogenicity of a first-generation WNV DNA vaccine was demonstrated in a clinical trial and a similar DNA vaccine has been licensed for use in horses.
Methods. A DNA vaccine encoding the protein premembrane and the E glycoproteins of the NY99 strain of WNV under the transcriptional control of the CMV/R promoter was evaluated in an open-label study in 30 healthy adults. Half of the subjects were age 18–50 years and half were age 51–65 years. Immune responses were assessed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, neutralization assays, intracellular cytokine staining, and ELISpot.
Results. The 3-dose vaccine regimen was safe and well tolerated. Vaccine-induced T cell and neutralizing antibody responses were detected in the majority of subjects. The antibody responses seen in the older age group were of similar frequency, magnitude, and duration as those seen in the younger cohort.
Conclusions. Neutralizing antibody responses to WNV were elicited by DNA vaccination in humans, including in older individuals, where responses to traditional vaccine approaches are often diminished. This DNA vaccine elicited T cell responses of greater magnitude when compared with an earlier-generation construct utilizing a CMV promoter.
 Clinical Trials Registration. NCT00300417.
PMCID: PMC3080891  PMID: 21398392
13.  A Phase I/II Study of a Multiclade HIV-1 DNA Plasmid Prime and Recombinant Adenovirus-type 5 Boost Vaccine in HIV Uninfected East Africans (RV 172) 
The Journal of infectious diseases  2010;201(4):600-607.
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) vaccine development remains a global priority. We describe the safety and immunogenicity of a multi-clade DNA vaccine prime with a replication-defective Adenovirus type 5 (rAd5) boost.
The vaccine is a 6-plasmid mixture encoding HIV envelope (env) subtypes A, B and C and subtype B gag, pol and nef, and a rAd5 expressing identical genes, with the exception of nef. Three hundred and twenty-four participants were randomized to receive placebo (n=138), a single dose of rAd5 at 1010 (n=24) or 1011 particle units (n=24), or DNA at 0, 1 and 2 months followed by rAd5 at either 1010 (n=114) or 1011 particle units (n=24) boosting at 6 months. Participants were followed for 24 weeks after the final immunization.
The vaccine was safe and well tolerated. HIV-specific T cell responses were detected in 63% of vaccinees. Pre-existing Ad5 neutralizing antibody titer did not impact the frequency and magnitude of T cell responses in prime-boost recipients, but did impact the response rates in participants receiving rAd5 alone (p=0.037).
The DNA/rAd5 immunization regimen was safe and induced HIV-1 multi-clade T cell responses, which were not significantly affected by pre-existing rAd5 neutralizing antibody titer.
PMCID: PMC2811694  PMID: 20078213
HIV-1 Vaccine; DNA plasmid vaccine; recombinant Adenovirus vaccine; Africa vaccine trial
14.  Safety and Immunogenicity Study of Multiclade HIV-1 Adenoviral Vector Vaccine Alone or as Boost following a Multiclade HIV-1 DNA Vaccine in Africa 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(9):e12873.
We conducted a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled Phase I study of a recombinant replication-defective adenovirus type 5 (rAd5) vector expressing HIV-1 Gag and Pol from subtype B and Env from subtypes A, B and C, given alone or as boost following a DNA plasmid vaccine expressing the same HIV-1 proteins plus Nef, in 114 healthy HIV-uninfected African adults.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Volunteers were randomized to 4 groups receiving the rAd5 vaccine intramuscularly at dosage levels of 1×1010 or 1×1011 particle units (PU) either alone or as boost following 3 injections of the DNA vaccine given at 4 mg/dose intramuscularly by needle-free injection using Biojector® 2000. Safety and immunogenicity were evaluated for 12 months. Both vaccines were well-tolerated. Overall, 62% and 86% of vaccine recipients in the rAd5 alone and DNA prime - rAd5 boost groups, respectively, responded to the HIV-1 proteins by an interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) ELISPOT. The frequency of immune responses was independent of rAd5 dosage levels. The highest frequency of responses after rAd5 alone was detected at 6 weeks; after DNA prime - rAd5 boost, at 6 months (end of study). At baseline, neutralizing antibodies against Ad5 were present in 81% of volunteers; the distribution was similar across the 4 groups. Pre-existing immunity to Ad5 did not appear to have a significant impact on reactogenicity or immune response rates to HIV antigens by IFN-γ ELISPOT. Binding antibodies against Env were detected in up to 100% recipients of DNA prime - rAd5 boost. One volunteer acquired HIV infection after the study ended, two years after receipt of rAd5 alone.
The HIV-1 rAd5 vaccine, either alone or as a boost following HIV-1 DNA vaccine, was well-tolerated and immunogenic in African adults. DNA priming increased the frequency and magnitude of cellular and humoral immune responses, but there was no effect of rAd5 dosage on immunogenicity endpoints.
Trial Registration NCT00124007
PMCID: PMC2943475  PMID: 20877623
15.  Characterization of SARS-CoV-specific memory T cells from recovered individuals 4 years after infection 
Archives of virology  2009;154(7):1093-1099.
SARS-CoV infection of human results in antigen-specific cellular and humoral immune responses. However, it is critical to determine whether SARS-CoV-specific memory T cells can persist for long periods of time. In this study, we analyzed the cellular immune response from 21 SARS-recovered individuals who had been diagnosed with SARS in 2003 by using ELISA, CBA, ELISpot and multiparameter flow cytometry assays. Our results demonstrated that low levels of specific memory T cell responses to SARS-CoV S, M, E and N peptides were detected in a proportion of SARS-recovered patients, and IFN-γ was the predominant cytokine produced by T cells after stimulation with peptides. Cytometry analysis indicated that the majority of memory CD8+ T cells produced IFN-γ, whereas memory CD4+ T cells produced IFN-γ, IL-2 or TNF-α. These results might provide valuable information on the cellular immune response in recovered SARS-CoV patients for the rational design of vaccines against SARS-CoV infection.
PMCID: PMC2796960  PMID: 19526193
16.  Systemic and Mucosal T-Lymphocyte Activation Induced by Recombinant Adenovirus Vaccines in Rhesus Monkeys▿  
Journal of Virology  2009;83(20):10596-10604.
The administration of vectors designed to elicited cell-mediated immune responses may have other consequences that are clinically significant. To explore this possibility, we evaluated T-cell activation during the first 2 months after recombinant adenovirus serotype 5 (rAd5) prime or boost immunizations in rhesus monkeys. We also evaluated the kinetics of T-lymphocyte activation in both the systemic and the mucosal compartments after rAd5 administration in monkeys with preexisting immunity to Ad5. The rAd5 immunization induced lower-frequency Gag epitope-specific CD8+ T cells in the colonic mucosa than in the peripheral blood. There was evidence of an expansion of the simian immunodeficiency virus Gag-specific CD8+ T-cell responses, but not the Ad5 hexon-specific T-cell responses, following a homologous rAd5 boost. A striking but transient T-lymphocyte activation in both the systemic and the mucosal compartments of rhesus monkeys was observed after rAd5 immunization. These findings indicate that the administration of a vaccine vector such as Ad5 can induce a global activation of T cells.
PMCID: PMC2753133  PMID: 19656883
17.  Priming Immunization with DNA Augments Immunogenicity of Recombinant Adenoviral Vectors for Both HIV-1 Specific Antibody and T-Cell Responses 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(2):e9015.
Induction of HIV-1-specific T-cell responses relevant to diverse subtypes is a major goal of HIV vaccine development. Prime-boost regimens using heterologous gene-based vaccine vectors have induced potent, polyfunctional T cell responses in preclinical studies.
The first opportunity to evaluate the immunogenicity of DNA priming followed by recombinant adenovirus serotype 5 (rAd5) boosting was as open-label rollover trials in subjects who had been enrolled in prior studies of HIV-1 specific DNA vaccines. All subjects underwent apheresis before and after rAd5 boosting to characterize in depth the T cell and antibody response induced by the heterologous DNA/rAd5 prime-boost combination.
rAd5 boosting was well-tolerated with no serious adverse events. Compared to DNA or rAd5 vaccine alone, sequential DNA/rAd5 administration induced 7-fold higher magnitude Env-biased HIV-1-specific CD8+ T-cell responses and 100-fold greater antibody titers measured by ELISA. There was no significant neutralizing antibody activity against primary isolates. Vaccine-elicited CD4+ and CD8+ T-cells expressed multiple functions and were predominantly long-term (CD127+) central or effector memory T cells and that persisted in blood for >6 months. Epitopes mapped in Gag and Env demonstrated partial cross-clade recognition.
Heterologous prime-boost using vector-based gene delivery of vaccine antigens is a potent immunization strategy for inducing both antibody and T-cell responses.
Trial Registration NCT00102089, NCT00108654
PMCID: PMC2814848  PMID: 20126394
18.  Replication-Defective Adenovirus Vectors with Multiple Deletions Do Not Induce Measurable Vector-Specific T Cells in Human Trials▿  
Journal of Virology  2009;83(12):6318-6322.
The magnitude and character of adenovirus serotype 5 (Ad5)-specific T cells were determined in volunteers with and without preexisting neutralizing antibodies (NAs) to Ad5 who received replication-defective Ad5 (rAd5)-based human immunodeficiency virus vaccines. There was no correlation between T-cell responses and NAs to Ad5. There was no increase in magnitude or activation state of Ad5-specific CD4+ T cells at time points where antibodies to Ad5 and T-cell responses to the recombinant gene products could be measured. These data indicate that rAd5-based vaccines containing deletions in the E1, E3, and E4 regions do not induce appreciable expansion of vector-specific CD4+ T cells.
PMCID: PMC2687372  PMID: 19339347
19.  A SARS DNA Vaccine Induces Neutralizing Antibody and Cellular Immune Responses in Healthy Adults in a Phase I Clinical Trial 
Vaccine  2008;26(50):6338-6343.
The severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) virus is a member of the Coronaviridae (CoV) family that first appeared in the Guangdong Province of China in 2002 and was recognized as an emerging infectious disease in March 2003. Over 8,000 cases and 900 deaths occurred during the epidemic. We report the safety and immunogenicity of a SARS DNA vaccine in a Phase I human study.
A single-plasmid DNA vaccine encoding the Spike (S) glycoprotein was evaluated in 10 healthy adults. Nine subjects completed the 3 dose vaccination schedule and were evaluated for vaccine safety and immune responses. Immune response was assessed by intracellular cytokine staining (ICS), ELISpot, ELISA, and neutralization assays.
The vaccine was well-tolerated. SARS-CoV-specific antibody was detected by ELISA in 8 of 10 subjects and neutralizing antibody was detected in all subjects who received 3 doses of vaccine. SARS-CoV-specific CD4+ T cell responses were detected in all vaccinees, and CD8+ T cell responses in ∼20% of individuals.
The VRC SARS DNA vaccine was well tolerated and produced cellular immune responses and neutralizing antibody in healthy adults.
PMCID: PMC2612543  PMID: 18824060
T cell vaccine; emerging infectious disease; vaccine clinical trial
20.  Biodistribution and Toxicological Safety of Adenovirus Type 5 and Type 35 Vectored Vaccines Against Human Immunodeficiency Virus-1 (HIV-1), Ebola, or Marburg Are Similar Despite Differing Adenovirus Serotype Vector, Manufacturer's Construct, or Gene Inserts 
Journal of immunotoxicology  2008;5(3):315-335.
The Vaccine Research Center has developed vaccine candidates for different diseases/infectious agents (including HIV-1, Ebola, and Marburg viruses) built on an adenovirus vector platform, based on adenovirus type 5 or 35. To support clinical development of each vaccine candidate, pre-clinical studies were performed in rabbits to determine where in the body they biodistribute and how rapidly they clear, and to screen for potential toxicities (intrinsic and immunotoxicities). The vaccines biodistribute only to spleen, liver (Ad5 only), and/or iliac lymph node (Ad35 only) and otherwise remain in the site of injection muscle and overlying subcutis. Though ∼1011 viral particles were inoculated, already by Day 9, all but 103 to 105 genome copies per μg of DNA had cleared from the injection site muscle. By three months, the adenovector was cleared with, at most, a few animals retaining a small number of copies in the injection site, spleen (Ad5), or iliac lymph node (Ad35). This pattern of limited biodistribution and extensive clearance is consistent regardless of differences in adenovector type (Ad5 or 35), manufacturer's construct and production methods, or gene-insert. Repeated dose toxicology studies identified treatment-related toxicities confined primarily to the sites of injection, in certain clinical pathology parameters, and in body temperatures (Ad5 vectors) and food consumption immediately post-inoculation. Systemic reactogenicity and reactogenicity at the sites of injection demonstrated reversibility. These data demonstrate the safety and suitability for investigational human use of Ad5 or Ad35 adenovector-based vaccine candidates at doses of up to 2 × 1011 given intramuscularly to prevent various infectious diseases.
PMCID: PMC2777703  PMID: 18830892
Adenovirus vector; Adenovirus Type 5; Adenovirus Type 35; HIV-1; Ebola; Marburg; Biodistribution; Repeated Dose Toxicology; Safety; Vaccine
21.  A West Nile Virus DNA Vaccine Induces Neutralizing Antibody in Healthy Adults during a Phase 1 Clinical Trial 
The Journal of infectious diseases  2007;196(12):1732-1740.
West Nile virus (WNV) is a mosquitoborne flavivirus that can cause severe meningitis and encephalitis in infected individuals. We report the safety and immunogenicity of a WNV DNA vaccine in its first phase 1 human study.
A single-plasmid DNA vaccine encoding the premembrane and the envelope glycoproteins of the NY99 strain of WNV was evaluated in an open-label study in 15 healthy adults. Twelve subjects completed the 3-dose vaccination schedule, and all subjects completed 32 weeks of evaluation for safety and immunogenicity. The development of a vaccine-induced immune response was assessed by enzyme-linked immunosorbant assay, neutralization assays, intracelluar cytokine staining, and enzyme-linked immunospot assay.
The vaccine was safe and well tolerated, with no significant adverse events. Vaccine-induced T cell and antibody responses were detected in the majority of subjects. Neutralizing antibody to WNV was detected in all subjects who completed the 3-dose vaccination schedule, at levels shown to be protective in studies of horses, an incidental natural host for WNV.
Further assessment of this DNA platform for human immunization against WNV is warranted.
Trial registration identifier: NCT00106769.
PMCID: PMC2714735  PMID: 18190252
22.  Persistent memory CD4+ and CD8+ T-cell responses in recovered severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) patients to SARS coronavirus M antigen 
The Journal of general virology  2007;88(Pt 10):2740-2748.
The membrane (M) protein of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) is a major glycoprotein with multiple biological functions. In this study, we found that memory T cells against M protein were persistent in recovered SARS patients by detecting gamma interferon (IFN-γ) production using ELISA and ELISpot assays. Flow cytometric analysis showed that both CD4+ and CD8+ T cells were involved in cellular responses to SARS-CoV M antigen. Furthermore, memory CD8+ T cells displayed an effector memory cell phenotype expressing CD45RO− CCR7− CD62L−. In contrast, the majority of IFN-γ+ CD4+ T cells were central memory cells with the expression of CD45RO+ CCR7+ CD62L−. The epitope screening from 30 synthetic overlapping peptides that cover the entire SARS-CoV M protein identified four human T-cell immunodominant peptides, p21−44, p65−91, p117−140 and p200−220. All four immunodominant peptides could elicit cellular immunity with a predominance of CD8+ T-cell response. This data may have important implication for developing SARS vaccines.
PMCID: PMC2362397  PMID: 17872527
23.  Phase 1 Safety and Immunogenicity Evaluation of a Multiclade HIV-1 DNA Candidate Vaccine 
The Journal of infectious diseases  2006;194(12):1650-1660.
Gene-based vaccine delivery is an important strategy in the development of a preventive vaccine for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Vaccine Research Center (VRC) 004 is the first phase 1 dose-escalation study of a multiclade HIV-1 DNA vaccine.
VRC-HIVDNA009−00-VP is a 4-plasmid mixture encoding subtype B Gag-Pol-Nef fusion protein and modified envelope (Env) constructs from subtypes A, B, and C. Fifty healthy, uninfected adults were randomized to receive either placebo (n = 10) or study vaccine at 2 mg (n = 5), 4 mg (n = 20), or 8 mg (n = 15) by needle-free intramuscular injection. Humoral responses (measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbant assay, Western blotting, and neutralization assay) and T cell responses (measured by enzyme-linked immunospot assay and intracellular cytokine staining after stimulation with antigen-specific peptide pools) were measured.
The vaccine was well tolerated and induced cellular and humoral responses. The maximal CD4+ and CD8+ T cell responses occurred after 3 injections and were in response to Env peptide pools. The pattern of cytokine expression by vaccine-induced HIV-specific T cells evolved over time, with a diminished frequency of interferon-γ–producing T cells and an increased frequency of interleukin-2–producing T cells at 1 year.
DNA vaccination induced antibody to and T cell responses against 3 major HIV-1 subtypes and will be further evaluated as a potential component of a preventive AIDS vaccine regimen.
PMCID: PMC2428069  PMID: 17109336
24.  Phase 1 Safety and Immunogenicity Evaluation of a Multiclade HIV-1 Candidate Vaccine Delivered by a Replication-Defective Recombinant Adenovirus Vector 
The Journal of infectious diseases  2006;194(12):1638-1649.
The development of an effective human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) vaccine is a high global priority. Here, we report the safety, tolerability, and immunogenicity of a replication-defective recombinant adenovirus serotype 5 (rAd5) vector HIV-1 candidate vaccine.
The vaccine is a mixture of 4 rAd5 vectors that express HIV-1 subtype B Gag-Pol fusion protein and envelope (Env) from subtypes A, B, and C. Healthy, uninfected adults were randomized to receive 1 intramuscular injection of placebo (n = 6) or vaccine at dose levels of 109 (n = 10), 1010 (n = 10), or 1011 (n = 10) particle units and were followed for 24 weeks to assess immunogenicity and safety.
The vaccine was well tolerated but was associated with more reactogenicity at the highest dose. At week 4, vaccine antigen–specific T cell responses were detected in 28 (93.3%) and 18 (60%) of 30 vaccine recipients for CD4+ and CD8+ T cells, respectively, by intracellular cytokine staining assay and in 22 (73%) of 30 vaccine recipients by enzyme-linked immunospot assay. Env-specific antibody responses were detected in 15 (50%) of 30 vaccine recipients by enzyme-linked immunosorbant assay and in 28 (93.3%) of 30 vaccine recipients by immunoprecipitation followed by Western blotting. No neutralizing antibody was detected.
A single injection induced HIV-1 antigen–specific CD4+ T cell, CD8+ T cell, and antibody responses in the majority of vaccine recipients. This multiclade rAd5 HIV-1 vaccine is now being evaluated in combination with a multiclade HIV-1 DNA plasmid vaccine.
PMCID: PMC2428071  PMID: 17109335
25.  Toxicological Safety Evaluation of DNA Plasmid Vaccines against HIV-1, Ebola, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or West Nile Virus Is Similar Despite Differing Plasmid Backbones or Gene-Inserts 
The Vaccine Research Center has developed a number of vaccine candidates for different diseases/infectious agents (HIV-1, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome virus, West Nile virus, and Ebola virus, plus a plasmid cytokine adjuvant—IL-2/Ig) based on a DNA plasmid vaccine platform. To support the clinical development of each of these vaccine candidates, preclinical studies were performed to screen for potential toxicities (intrinsic and immunotoxicities). All treatment-related toxicities identified in these repeated-dose toxicology studies have been confined primarily to the sites of injection and seem to be the result of both the delivery method (as they are seen in both control and treated animals) and the intended immune response to the vaccine (as they occur with greater frequency and severity in treated animals). Reactogenicity at the site of injection is generally seen to be reversible as the frequency and severity diminished between doses and between the immediate and recovery termination time points. This observation also correlated with the biodistribution data reported in the companion article (Sheets et al., 2006), in which DNA plasmid vaccine was shown to remain at the site of injection, rather than biodistributing widely, and to clear over time. The results of these safety studies have been submitted to the Food and Drug Administration to support the safety of initiating clinical studies with these and related DNA plasmid vaccines. Thus far, standard repeated-dose toxicology studies have not identified any target organs for toxicity (other than the injection site) for our DNA plasmid vaccines at doses up to 8 mg per immunization, regardless of disease indication (i.e., expressed gene-insert) and despite differences (strengths) in the promoters used to drive this expression. As clinical data accumulate with these products, it will be possible to retrospectively compare the safety profiles of the products in the clinic to the results of the repeated-dose toxicology studies, in order to determine the utility of such toxicology studies for signaling potential immunotoxicities or intrinsic toxicities from DNA vaccines. These data build on the biodistribution studies performed (see companion article, Sheets et al., 2006) to demonstrate the safety and suitability for investigational human use of DNA plasmid vaccine candidates for a variety of infectious disease prevention indications.
PMCID: PMC2366098  PMID: 16569728
DNA vaccines; HIV/AIDS; SARS; WNV; Ebola; DNA vaccine toxicology; plasmid vaccines

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