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1.  Protective Efficacy of a Global HIV-1 Mosaic Vaccine Against Heterologous SHIV Challenges in Rhesus Monkeys 
Cell  2013;155(3):10.1016/j.cell.2013.09.061.
The global diversity of HIV-1 represents a critical challenge facing HIV-1 vaccine development. HIV-1 mosaic antigens are bioinformatically optimized immunogens designed for improved coverage of HIV-1 diversity. However, the protective efficacy of global HIV-1 vaccine antigens has not previously been evaluated. Here we demonstrate the capacity of bivalent HIV-1 mosaic antigens to protect rhesus monkeys against acquisition of heterologous challenges with the difficult-to-neutralize simian-human immunodeficiency virus SHIV-SF162P3. Adenovirus/poxvirus and adenovirus/adenovirus vector-based vaccines expressing HIV-1 mosaic Env, Gag, and Pol afforded a significant reduction in the per-exposure acquisition risk following repetitive, intrarectal SHIV-SF162P3 challenges. Protection against acquisition of infection was correlated with vaccine-elicited binding, neutralizing, and functional non-neutralizing antibodies. These data demonstrate the protective efficacy of HIV-1 mosaic antigens and suggest a potential strategy towards the development of a global HIV-1 vaccine. Moreover, our findings suggest that the coordinated activity of multiple antibody functions may contribute to protection against difficult-to-neutralize viruses.
PMCID: PMC3846288  PMID: 24243013
2.  Highly effective generic adjuvant systems for orphan or poverty-related vaccines✩ 
Vaccine  2010;29(5):873-877.
Safe and effective adjuvants are needed for many vaccines with limited commercial appeal, such as vaccines to infrequent (orphan) diseases or to neglected and poverty-related diseases. Here we found that three nonproprietary liposome formulations containing monophosphoryl lipid A each induced 3-fold to 5-fold increased titers of binding and neutralizing antibodies to anthrax protective antigen compared to aluminum hydroxide-adsorbed antigen in monkeys. All vaccinated monkeys were protected against lethal challenge with aerosolized Ames strain spores.
PMCID: PMC4190060  PMID: 21115053
Adjuvants; Liposomes; Monophosphoryl lipid A; Bacteriophage T4; Anthrax; Non-human primates
3.  HIV-1 Variable Loop 2 and its Importance in HIV-1 Infection and Vaccine Development 
Current HIV research  2013;11(5):427-438.
A vaccine that can prevent the transmission of HIV-1 at the site of exposure to the host is one of the best hopes to control the HIV-1 pandemic. The trimeric envelope spike consisting of heterodimers, gp120 and gp41, is essential for virus entry and thus has been a key target for HIV-1 vaccine development. However, it has been extremely difficult to identify the types of antibodies required to block the transmission of various HIV-1 strains and the immunogens that can elicit such antibodies due to the high genetic diversity of the HIV-1 envelope. The modest efficacy of the gp120 HIV-1 vaccine used in the RV144 Thai trial, including the studies on the immune correlates of protection, and the discovery of vaccine-induced immune responses to certain signature regions of the envelope have shown that the gp120 variable loop 2 (V2) is an important region. Since there is evidence that the V2 region interacts with the integrin α4β7 receptor of the host cell, and that this interaction might be important for virus capture, induction of antibodies against V2 loop could be postulated as one of the mechanisms to prevent the acquisition of HIV-1. Immunogens that can induce these antibodies should therefore be taken into consideration when designing HIV-1 vaccine formulations.
PMCID: PMC4086350  PMID: 24191938
4.  Vaccine Induction of Antibodies Against a Structurally Heterogeneous Site of Immune Pressure within HIV-1 Envelope Protein Variable Regions 1 and 2 
Immunity  2013;38(1):176-186.
The RV144 HIV-1 trial of the canary pox vector (ALVAC-HIV) plus the gp120 AIDSVAX B/E vaccine demonstrated an estimated efficacy of 31%, that correlated directly with antibodies to HIV-1 envelope variable regions 1 and 2 (V1–V2). Genetic analysis of trial viruses revealed increased vaccine efficacy against viruses matching the vaccine strain at V2 residue 169. Here, we isolated four V2 monoclonal antibodies from RV144 vaccinees that recognize residue 169, neutralize laboratory-adapted HIV-1, and mediate killing of field isolate HIV-1-infected CD4+ T cells. Crystal structures of two of the V2 antibodies demonstrated residue 169 can exist within divergent helical and loop conformations, which contrasted dramatically with the beta strand conformation previously observed with a broadly neutralizing antibody PG9. Thus, RV144 vaccine-induced immune pressure appears to target a region that may be both sequence variable and structurally polymorphic. Variation may signal sites of HIV-1 envelope vulnerability, providing vaccine designers with new options.
PMCID: PMC3569735  PMID: 23313589
5.  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
6.  Antibodies with High Avidity to the gp120 Envelope Protein in Protection from Simian Immunodeficiency Virus SIVmac251 Acquisition in an Immunization Regimen That Mimics the RV-144 Thai Trial 
Journal of Virology  2013;87(3):1708-1719.
The recombinant canarypox vector, ALVAC-HIV, together with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) gp120 envelope glycoprotein, has protected 31.2% of Thai individuals from HIV acquisition in the RV144 HIV vaccine trial. This outcome was unexpected, given the limited ability of the vaccine components to induce CD8+ T-cell responses or broadly neutralizing antibodies. We vaccinated macaques with an immunization regimen intended to mimic the RV144 trial and exposed them intrarectally to a dose of the simian immunodeficiency virus SIVmac251 that transmits few virus variants, similar to HIV transmission to humans. Vaccination induced anti-envelope antibodies in all vaccinees and CD4+ and CD8+ T-cell responses. Three of the 11 macaques vaccinated with ALVAC-SIV/gp120 were protected from SIVmac251 acquisition, but the result was not significant. The remaining vaccinees were infected and progressed to disease. The magnitudes of vaccine-induced SIVmac251-specific T-cell responses and binding antibodies were not significantly different between protected and infected animals. However, sera from protected animals had higher avidity antibodies to gp120, recognized the variable envelope regions V1/V2, and reduced SIVmac251 infectivity in cells that express high levels of α4β7 integrins, suggesting a functional role of antibodies to V2. The current results emphasize the utility of determining the titer of repeated mucosal challenge in the preclinical evaluation of HIV vaccines.
PMCID: PMC3554145  PMID: 23175374
Current Opinion in Immunology  2012;24(3):310-315.
Rational selection of individual adjuvants can often be made based on innate molecular interactions of the foreign molecules with pattern recognition receptors such as Toll-like receptors. For example, monophosphoryl lipid A, a family of endotoxic TLR4 agonist molecules from bacteria, has recently been formulated with liposomes, oil emulsions, or aluminum salts for several vaccines. Combinations of antigens and adjuvants with particulate lipid or oil components may reveal unique properties of immune potency or efficacy, but these can sometimes be exhibited differently in rodents when compared to nonhuman primates or humans. New adjuvants, formulations, microinjection devices, and skin delivery techniques for transcutaneous immunization demonstrate that adjuvant systems can include combinations of strategies and delivery mechanisms for uniquely formulated antigens and adjuvants.
PMCID: PMC3383374  PMID: 22521140
8.  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
9.  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
10.  HIV-1 Envelope Resistance to Proteasomal Cleavage: Implications for Vaccine Induced Immune Responses 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e42579.
Antigen processing involves many proteolytic enzymes such as proteasomes and cathepsins. The processed antigen is then presented on the cell surface bound to either MHC class I or class II molecules and induces/interacts with antigen-specific CD8+ and CD4+ T-cells, respectively. Preliminary immunological data from the RV144 phase III trial indicated that the immune responses were biased towards the Env antigen with a dominant CD4+ T-cell response.
In this study, we examined the susceptibility of HIV-1 Env-A244 gp120 protein, one of the protein boost subunits of the RV144 Phase III vaccine trial, to proteasomes and cathepsins and identified the generated peptide epitope repertoire by mass spectrometry. The peptide fragments were tested for cytokine production in CD4+ T-cell lines derived from RV144 volunteers.
Env-A244 was resistant to proteasomes, thus diminishing the possibility of the generation of class I epitopes by the classical MHC class I pathway. However, Env-A244 was efficiently cleaved by cathepsins generating peptide arrays identified by mass spectrometry that contained both MHC class I and class II epitopes as reported in the Los Alamos database. Each of the cathepsins generated distinct degradation patterns containing regions of light and dense epitope clusters. The sequence DKKQKVHALF that is part of the V2 loop of gp120 produced by cathepsins induced a polyfunctional cytokine response including the generation of IFN-γ from CD4+ T-cell lines-derived from RV144 vaccinees. This sequence is significant since antibodies to the V1/V2-loop region correlated inversely with HIV-1 infection in the RV144 trial.
Based on our results, the susceptibility of Env-A244 to cathepsins and not to proteasomes suggests a possible mechanism for the generation of Env-specific CD4+T cell and antibody responses in the RV144 vaccinees.
PMCID: PMC3412807  PMID: 22880042
11.  Vaccine Protection Against Acquisition of Neutralization-Resistant SIV Challenges in Rhesus Monkeys 
Nature  2012;482(7383):89-93.
Preclinical studies of HIV-1 vaccine candidates have typically shown post-infection virologic control, but protection against acquisition of infection has previously only been reported against neutralization-sensitive virus challenges1–3. Here we demonstrate vaccine protection against acquisition of fully heterologous, neutralization-resistant virus challenges in rhesus monkeys. Adenovirus/poxvirus and adenovirus/adenovirus vector-based vaccines expressing SIVsmE543 Gag, Pol, and Env antigens resulted in a ≥80% reduction in the per-exposure probability of infection4,5 against repetitive, intrarectal SIVmac251 challenges in rhesus monkeys. Protection against acquisition of infection exhibited distinct immunologic correlates as compared with post-infection virologic control and required the inclusion of Env in the vaccine regimen. These data demonstrate the first proof-of-concept that optimized HIV-1 vaccine candidates can block acquisition of stringent, heterologous, neutralization-resistant virus challenges in rhesus monkeys.
PMCID: PMC3271177  PMID: 22217938
12.  Anthrax Vaccine Antigen-Adjuvant Formulations Completely Protect New Zealand White Rabbits against Challenge with Bacillus anthracis Ames Strain Spores 
In an effort to develop an improved anthrax vaccine that shows high potency, five different anthrax protective antigen (PA)-adjuvant vaccine formulations that were previously found to be efficacious in a nonhuman primate model were evaluated for their efficacy in a rabbit pulmonary challenge model using Bacillus anthracis Ames strain spores. The vaccine formulations include PA adsorbed to Alhydrogel, PA encapsulated in liposomes containing monophosphoryl lipid A, stable liposomal PA oil-in-water emulsion, PA displayed on bacteriophage T4 by the intramuscular route, and PA mixed with Escherichia coli heat-labile enterotoxin administered by the needle-free transcutaneous route. Three of the vaccine formulations administered by the intramuscular or the transcutaneous route as a three-dose regimen induced 100% protection in the rabbit model. One of the formulations, liposomal PA, also induced significantly higher lethal toxin neutralizing antibodies than PA-Alhydrogel. Even 5 months after the second immunization of a two-dose regimen, rabbits vaccinated with liposomal PA were 100% protected from lethal challenge with Ames strain spores. In summary, the needle-free skin delivery and liposomal formulation that were found to be effective in two different animal model systems appear to be promising candidates for next-generation anthrax vaccine development.
PMCID: PMC3255956  PMID: 22089245
13.  Cell Type-Specific Proteasomal Processing of HIV-1 Gag-p24 Results in an Altered Epitope Repertoire▿  
Journal of Virology  2010;85(4):1541-1553.
Proteasomes are critical for the processing of antigens for presentation through the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I pathway. HIV-1 Gag protein is a component of several experimental HIV-1 vaccines. Therefore, understanding the processing of HIV-1 Gag protein and the resulting epitope repertoire is essential. Purified proteasomes from mature dendritic cells (DC) and activated CD4+ T cells from the same volunteer were used to cleave full-length Gag-p24 protein, and the resulting peptide fragments were identified by mass spectrometry. Distinct proteasomal degradation patterns and peptide fragments were unique to either mature DC or activated CD4+ T cells. Almost half of the peptides generated were cell type specific. Two additional differences were observed in the peptides identified from the two cell types. These were in the HLA-B35-Px epitope and the HLA-B27-KK10 epitope. These epitopes have been linked to HIV-1 disease progression. Our results suggest that the source of generation of precursor MHC class I epitopes may be a critical factor for the induction of relevant epitope-specific cytotoxic T cells.
PMCID: PMC3028885  PMID: 21106750
14.  Anthrax LFn-PA Hybrid Antigens: Biochemistry, Immunogenicity, and Protection Against Lethal Ames Spore Challenge in Rabbits# 
The open vaccine journal  2009;2:92-99.
We describe a novel hybrid anthrax toxin approach that incorporates multiple components into a single vaccine product. The key domains of protective antigen (PA) and lethal factor (LF) that may be critical for inducing protective immunity are combined into one recombinant molecule. Two LF N-terminal domain-PA hybrids, one with wild-type PA and another with furin cleavage-minus PA, were expressed in E. coli and purified in a native form. Both the hybrids bind to the extracellular domain of the host receptor, CMG2; the wild-type hybrid can be cleaved by furin exposing the LF interacting domain, allowing it to oligomerize into lethal toxin as well as translocation pore-like complexes. The hybrid antigens are immunogenic in Dutch-belted rabbits, eliciting strong PA-specific and LF-specific antibodies. However, the lethal toxin neutralizing antibody titers are 3-7 times lower than those elicited by PA-alum. The hybrid antigens conferred 100% (6/6) protection in rabbits challenged intranasally with a 100 LD50 dose of Bacillus anthracis Ames strain spores.
PMCID: PMC2853182  PMID: 20390054
15.  Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 Gag p24 Alters the Composition of Immunoproteasomes and Affects Antigen Presentation▿ †  
Journal of Virology  2009;83(14):7049-7061.
Proteasomes are the major source of proteases responsible for the generation of peptides bound to major histocompatibility complex class I molecules. Antigens, adjuvants, and cytokines can modulate the composition and enzymatic activity of proteasomes and thus alter the epitopes generated. In the present study, we examined the effect of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) p24 on proteasomes from a dendritic cell line (JAWS II), from a macrophage cell line (C2.3), and from murine primary bone marrow-derived macrophages and dendritic cells. HIV-1 p24 downregulated PA28β and the β2i subunit of the immunoproteasome complex in JAWS II cells but did not decrease the immunoproteasome subunits in macrophages, whereas in primary dendritic cells, PA28α, β2i, and β5i were downregulated. Exposure of JAWS II cells and primary dendritic cells to HIV-1 p24 for 90 min significantly decreased the presentation of ovalbumin to a SIINFEKL-specific CD8+ T-cell hybridoma. The decrease in antigen presentation and the downmodulation of the immunoproteasome subunits in JAWS II cells and primary dendritic cells could be overcome by pretreating the cells with gamma interferon for 6 h or by exposing the cells to HIV-1 p24 encapsulated in liposomes containing lipid A. These results suggest that early antigen processing kinetics could influence the immunogenicity of CD8+ T-cell epitopes generated.
PMCID: PMC2704757  PMID: 19403671
16.  Human Erythrocytes Selectively Bind and Enrich Infectious HIV-1 Virions 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(12):e8297.
Although CD4(+) cells represent the major target for HIV infection in blood, claims of complement-independent binding of HIV-1 to erythrocytes and the possible role of Duffy blood group antigen, have generated controversy. To examine the question of binding to erythrocytes, HIV-1 was incubated in vitro with erythrocytes from 30 healthy leukapheresis donors, and binding was determined by p24 analysis and adsorption of HIV-1 with reduction of infectivity for CD4(+) target cells. All of the cells, regardless of blood group type, bound HIV-1 p24. A typical preparation of erythrocytes bound <2.4% of the added p24, but erythrocytes selectively removed essentially all of the viral infectivity as determined by decreased infection of CD4(+) target cells; however, cell-associated HIV-1 was approximately 100-fold more efficient, via trans infection, than unadsorbed virus for infection of CD4(+) cells. All of the bound HIV-1 p24 was released by treatment of the cells with EDTA, and binding was optimized by adding Ca2+ and Mg2+ during the washing of erythrocytes containing bound HIV-1. Although the small number of contaminating leukocytes in the erythrocyte preparation also bound HIV-1 p24, there was no significant binding to CD4, and it thus appears that the binding occurred on leukocytes at non-CD4 sites. Furthermore, binding occurred to erythrocyte ghosts from which contaminating leukocytes had been previously removed. The results demonstrate that erythrocytes incubated in vitro with HIV-1 differentially adsorb all of the infectious HIV-1 virions (as opposed to non-infectious or degraded virions) in the absence of complement and independent of blood group, and binding is dependent on divalent cations. By analogy with HIV-1 bound to DC-SIGN on dendritic cells, erythrocyte-bound HIV-1 might comprise an important surface reservoir for trans infection of permissive cells.
PMCID: PMC2788743  PMID: 20011536
17.  Multicomponent Anthrax Toxin Display and Delivery Using Bacteriophage T4 
Vaccine  2006;25(7):1225-1235.
We describe a multicomponent antigen display and delivery system using bacteriophage T4. Two dispensable outer capsid proteins, Hoc (highly antigenic outer capsid protein, 155 copies) and Soc (small outer capsid protein, 810 copies), decorate phage T4 capsid. These proteins bind to the symmetrically localized capsid sites, which appear following prohead assembly and expansion. We hypothesized that multiple antigens fused to Hoc can be displayed on the same capsid and such particles can elicit broad immunological responses. Anthrax toxin proteins, protective antigen (PA), lethal factor (LF), and edema factor (EF), and their functional domains, were fused to Hoc with an N-terminal hexa-histidine tag and the recombinant proteins were over-expressed in E. coli and purified. Using a defined in vitro assembly system, the anthrax-Hoc fusion proteins were efficiently displayed on T4 capsid, either individually or in combinations. All of the 155 Hoc binding sites can be occupied by one antigen, or they can be split among two or more antigens by varying their molar ratio in the binding reaction. Immunization of mice with T4 phage carrying PA, LF, and EF elicited strong antigen-specific antibodies against all antigens as well as lethal toxin neutralization titers. The triple antigen T4 phage elicited stronger PA-specific immune responses than the phage displaying PA alone. These features offer novel avenues to develop customized multicomponent vaccines against anthrax and other pathogenic diseases.
PMCID: PMC1888565  PMID: 17069938
Bacteriophage T4; virus assembly; phage display; anthrax toxin; Hoc; multi-component vaccine
18.  Assembly of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) Antigens on Bacteriophage T4: a Novel In Vitro Approach To Construct Multicomponent HIV Vaccines 
Journal of Virology  2006;80(15):7688-7698.
Bacteriophage T4 capsid is an elongated icosahedron decorated with 155 copies of Hoc, a nonessential highly antigenic outer capsid protein. One Hoc monomer is present in the center of each major capsid protein (gp23*) hexon. We describe an in vitro assembly system which allows display of HIV antigens, p24-gag, Nef, and an engineered gp41 C-peptide trimer, on phage T4 capsid surface through Hoc-capsid interactions. In-frame fusions were constructed by splicing the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) genes to the 5′ or 3′ end of the Hoc gene. The Hoc fusion proteins were expressed, purified, and displayed on hoc− phage particles in a defined in vitro system. Single or multiple antigens were efficiently displayed, leading to saturation of all available capsid binding sites. The displayed p24 was highly immunogenic in mice in the absence of any external adjuvant, eliciting strong p24-specific antibodies, as well as Th1 and Th2 cellular responses with a bias toward the Th2 response. The phage T4 system offers new direction and insights for HIV vaccine development with the potential to increase the breadth of both cellular and humoral immune responses.
PMCID: PMC1563720  PMID: 16840347
19.  Correlation between Lethal Toxin-Neutralizing Antibody Titers and Protection from Intranasal Challenge with Bacillus anthracis Ames Strain Spores in Mice after Transcutaneous Immunization with Recombinant Anthrax Protective Antigen  
Infection and Immunity  2006;74(1):794-797.
Transcutaneous immunization of mice with recombinant protective antigen (rPA) of Bacillus anthracis resulted in significantly higher lethal toxin-neutralizing antibody titers than did intramuscular injection of alum-adsorbed rPA. Immunized mice were partially protected against intranasal challenge with 235,000 (10 50% lethal doses) Ames strain B. anthracis spores. A highly significant correlation was observed between toxin-neutralizing antibody titer and survival after challenge. Future experiments with rabbits and nonhuman primates should confirm the significance of protection by this vaccine strategy.
PMCID: PMC1346607  PMID: 16369043
20.  Induction of Immune Responses in Mice and Monkeys to Ebola Virus after Immunization with Liposome-Encapsulated Irradiated Ebola Virus: Protection in Mice Requires CD4+ T Cells 
Journal of Virology  2002;76(18):9176-9185.
Ebola Zaire virus (EBO-Z) causes severe hemorrhagic fever in humans, with a high mortality rate. It is thought that a vaccine against EBO-Z may have to induce both humoral and cell-mediated immune responses to successfully confer protection. Because it is known that liposome-encapsulated antigens induce both antibody and cellular responses, we evaluated the protective efficacy of liposome-encapsulated irradiated EBO-Z [L(EV)], which contains all of the native EBO-Z proteins. In a series of experiments, mice immunized intravenously with L(EV) were completely protected (94/94 mice) against illness and death when they were challenged with a uniformly lethal mouse-adapted variant of EBO-Z. In contrast, only 55% of mice immunized intravenously with nonencapsulated irradiated virus (EV) survived challenge, and all became ill. Treatment with anti-CD4 antibodies before or during immunization with L(EV) eliminated protection, while treatment with anti-CD8 antibodies had no effect, thus indicating a requirement for CD4+ T lymphocytes for successful immunization. On the other hand, treatment with either anti-CD4 or anti-CD8 antibodies after immunization did not abolish the protection. After immunization with L(EV), antigen-specific gamma interferon (IFNγ)-secreting CD4+ T lymphocytes were induced as analyzed by enzyme-linked immunospot assay. Anti-CD4 monoclonal antibody treatment abolished IFNγ production (80 to 90% inhibition compared to that for untreated mice). Mice immunized with L(EV), but not EV, developed cytotoxic T lymphocytes specific to two peptides (amino acids [aa] 161 to 169 and aa 231 to 239) present in the amino-terminal end of the EBO-Z surface glycoprotein. Because of the highly successful results in the mouse model, L(EV) was also tested in three cynomolgus monkeys. Although immunization of the monkeys with L(EV)-induced virus-neutralizing antibodies against EBO-Z caused a slight delay in the onset of illness, it did not prevent death.
PMCID: PMC136452  PMID: 12186901
21.  Liposomes Containing Lipid A Serve as an Adjuvant for Induction of Antibody and Cytotoxic T-Cell Responses against RTS,S Malaria Antigen 
Infection and Immunity  1998;66(6):2859-2865.
Encapsulation of soluble protein antigens in liposomes was previously shown to result in processing of antigen via the major histocompatibility complex class I pathway, as evidenced by costaining of the trans-Golgi region of murine bone marrow-derived macrophages (BMs) by fluorophore-labeled liposomal antigen and by a trans-Golgi-specific fluorescent lipid. Evidence is presented here that free or liposome-encapsulated RTS,S, a particulate malaria antigen consisting of hepatitis B particles coexpressed with epitopes from the Plasmodium falciparum circumsporozoite protein, also was localized in the trans-Golgi after incubation with BMs, suggesting processing by the class I pathway. An in vivo cytotoxic T-lymphocyte (CTL) response was detected, however, only after immunization with RTS,S encapsulated in liposomes containing lipid A and not after immunization with free RTS,S or with RTS,S encapsulated in liposomes lacking lipid A. Therefore, intracellular delivery of antigen containing CTL epitopes to the Golgi of BMs does not necessarily result in a CTL response in vivo unless an additional adjuvant, such as liposomes containing lipid A, is utilized. Encapsulation of RTS,S in liposomes containing monophosphoryl lipid A (MPL) resulted in a dose-dependent enhancement of the NANP-specific immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibody response compared to that of free RTS,S. The IgG1 and IgG2a subclasses predominated after immunization with RTS,S encapsulated in liposomes containing MPL. These results demonstrate that encapsulation of a lipid-containing particulate antigen, such as RTS,S, in liposomes containing lipid A can enhance both humoral and cellular immune responses.
PMCID: PMC108282  PMID: 9596760

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