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1.  Caspase Activation as a Versatile Assay Platform for Detection of Cytotoxic Bacterial Toxins 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2013;51(9):2970-2976.
Pathogenic bacteria produce several virulence factors that help them establish infection in permissive hosts. Bacterial toxins are a major class of virulence factors and hence are attractive therapeutic targets for vaccine development. Here, we describe the development of a rapid, sensitive, and high-throughput assay that can be used as a versatile platform to measure the activities of bacterial toxins. We have exploited the ability of these toxins to cause cell death via apoptosis of sensitive cultured cell lines as a readout for measuring toxin activity. Caspases (cysteine-aspartic proteases) are induced early in the apoptotic pathway, and so we used their induction to measure the activities of Clostridium difficile toxins A (TcdA) and B (TcdB) and binary toxin (CDTa-CDTb), Corynebacterium diphtheriae toxin (DT), and Pseudomonas aeruginosa exotoxin A (PEA). Caspase induction in the cell lines, upon exposure to toxins, was optimized by toxin concentration and intoxication time, and the specificity of caspase activity was established using a genetically mutated toxin and a pan-caspase inhibitor. In addition, we demonstrate the utility of the caspase assay for measuring toxin potency, as well as neutralizing antibody (NAb) activity against C. difficile toxins. Furthermore, the caspase assay showed excellent correlation with the filamentous actin (F-actin) polymerization assay for measuring TcdA and TcdB neutralization titers upon vaccination of hamsters. These results demonstrate that the detection of caspase induction due to toxin exposure using a chemiluminescence readout can support potency and clinical immunogenicity testing for bacterial toxin vaccine candidates in development.
doi:10.1128/JCM.01161-13
PMCID: PMC3754665  PMID: 23824772
2.  Phase 1 studies of the safety and immunogenicity of electroporated HER2/CEA DNA vaccine followed by adenoviral boost immunization in patients with solid tumors 
Background
DNA electroporation has been demonstrated in preclinical models to be a promising strategy to improve cancer immunity, especially when combined with other genetic vaccines in heterologous prime-boost protocols. We report the results of 2 multicenter phase 1 trials involving adult cancer patients (n=33) with stage II-IV disease.
Methods
Patients were vaccinated with V930 alone, a DNA vaccine containing equal amounts of plasmids expressing the extracellular and trans-membrane domains of human HER2, and a plasmid expressing CEA fused to the B subunit of Escherichia coli heat labile toxin (Study 1), or a heterologous prime-boost vaccination approach with V930 followed by V932, a dicistronic adenovirus subtype-6 viral vector vaccine coding for the same antigens (Study 2).
Results
The use of the V930 vaccination with electroporation alone or in combination with V932 was well-tolerated without any serious adverse events. In both studies, the most common vaccine-related side effects were injection site reactions and arthralgias. No measurable cell-mediated immune response (CMI) to CEA or HER2 was detected in patients by ELISPOT; however, a significant increase of both cell-mediated immunity and antibody titer against the bacterial heat labile toxin were observed upon vaccination.
Conclusion
V930 vaccination alone or in combination with V932 was well tolerated without any vaccine-related serious adverse effects, and was able to induce measurable immune responses against bacterial antigen. However, the prime-boost strategy did not appear to augment any detectable CMI responses against either CEA or HER2.
Trial registration
Study 1 – ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT00250419; Study 2 – ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT00647114.
doi:10.1186/1479-5876-11-62
PMCID: PMC3599587  PMID: 23497415
DNA vaccine; Adenoviral vaccine; Electroporation; Prime-boost; Solid tumors; Cell-mediated immune response
3.  Safety and Immunogenicity of the MRKAd5 gag HIV Type 1 Vaccine in a Worldwide Phase 1 Study of Healthy Adults 
Abstract
The safety and immunogenicity of the MRK adenovirus type 5 (Ad5) HIV-1 clade B gag vaccine was assessed in an international Phase I trial. Three-hundred and sixty healthy HIV-uninfected adults were enrolled on five continents. Subjects received placebo or 1 × 109 or 1 × 1010 viral particles (vp) per dose of the MRKAd5 HIV-1 gag vaccine at day 1, week 4, and week 26. Immunogenicity was evaluated using an IFN-γ ELISPOT gag 15-mer assay with positive responses defined as ≥55 SFC/106 PBMCs and ≥4-fold over mock control. The vaccine was well tolerated. The most common adverse events were injection site reactions, headache, pyrexia, diarrhea, fatigue, and myalgia. At week 30, geometric mean ELISPOT responses were 24, 114, and 226 SFC/106 PBMCs in the placebo, 1 × 109 vp/dose, and 1 × 1010 vp/dose groups, respectively. Overall, responses to 1 × 1010 vp were 85% and 68% in subjects with low (≤200) and high (>200) baseline Ad5 titers, respectively. The MRKAd5 HIV-1 gag vaccine was immunogenic in diverse geographic regions. Gag ELISPOT responses were greater in the 1 × 1010 vp/dose groups than in the 1 × 109 vp/dose groups. Data from this first international study indicate that adenovirus-vectored vaccines are well tolerated and may be immunogenic in subjects from regions with high prevalence of preexisting Ad5 immunity.
doi:10.1089/aid.2010.0151
PMCID: PMC3422055  PMID: 20854108
4.  Genetic impact of vaccination on breakthrough HIV-1 sequences from the Step trial 
Nature medicine  2011;17(3):366-371.
We analyzed HIV-1 genome sequences from 68 newly-infected volunteers in the Step HIV-1 vaccine trial. To determine whether the vaccine exerted selective T-cell pressure on breakthrough viruses, we identified potential T-cell epitopes in the founder sequences and compared them to epitopes in the vaccine. We found greater distances for sequences from vaccine recipients than from placebo recipients (p-values ranging from < 0.0001 to 0.09). The most significant signature site distinguishing vaccine from placebo recipients was Gag-84, a site encompassed by several epitopes contained in the vaccine and restricted by HLA alleles common in the cohort. Moreover, the extended divergence was confined to the vaccine components of the virus (Gag, Pol, Nef) and not found in other HIV-1 proteins. These results represent the first evidence of selective pressure from vaccine-induced T-cell responses on HIV-1 infection.
doi:10.1038/nm.2316
PMCID: PMC3053571  PMID: 21358627
5.  Mapping HIV-1 Vaccine Induced T-Cell Responses: Bias towards Less-Conserved Regions and Potential Impact on Vaccine Efficacy in the Step Study 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(6):e20479.
T cell directed HIV vaccines are based upon the induction of CD8+ T cell memory responses that would be effective in inhibiting infection and subsequent replication of an infecting HIV-1 strain, a process that requires a match or near-match between the epitope induced by vaccination and the infecting viral strain. We compared the frequency and specificity of the CTL epitope responses elicited by the replication-defective Ad5 gag/pol/nef vaccine used in the Step trial with the likelihood of encountering those epitopes among recently sequenced Clade B isolates of HIV-1. Among vaccinees with detectable 15-mer peptide pool ELISpot responses, there was a median of four (one Gag, one Nef and two Pol) CD8 epitopes per vaccinee detected by 9-mer peptide ELISpot assay. Importantly, frequency analysis of the mapped epitopes indicated that there was a significant skewing of the T cell response; variable epitopes were detected more frequently than would be expected from an unbiased sampling of the vaccine sequences. Correspondingly, the most highly conserved epitopes in Gag, Pol, and Nef (defined by presence in >80% of sequences currently in the Los Alamos database www.hiv.lanl.gov) were detected at a lower frequency than unbiased sampling, similar to the frequency reported for responses to natural infection, suggesting potential epitope masking of these responses. This may be a generic mechanism used by the virus in both contexts to escape effective T cell immune surveillance. The disappointing results of the Step trial raise the bar for future HIV vaccine candidates. This report highlights the bias towards less-conserved epitopes present in the same vaccine used in the Step trial. Development of vaccine strategies that can elicit a greater breadth of responses, and towards conserved regions of the genome in particular, are critical requirements for effective T-cell based vaccines against HIV-1.
Trial Registration
ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00849680, A Study of Safety, Tolerability, and Immunogenicity of the MRKAd5 Gag/Pol/Nef Vaccine in Healthy Adults.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0020479
PMCID: PMC3112144  PMID: 21695251
6.  Vaccination with Ad5 Vectors Expands Ad5-Specific CD8+ T Cells without Altering Memory Phenotype or Functionality 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(12):e14385.
Background
Adenoviral (Ad) vaccine vectors represent both a vehicle to present a novel antigen to the immune system as well as restimulation of immune responses against the Ad vector itself. To what degree Ad-specific CD8+ T cells are restimulated by Ad vector vaccination is unclear, although such knowledge would be important as vector-specific CD8+ T cell expansion could potentially further limit Ad vaccine efficacy beyond Ad-specific neutralizing antibody alone.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Here we addressed this issue by measuring human Adenovirus serotype 5 (Ad5)-specific CD8+ T cells in recipients of the Merck Ad5 HIV-1 vaccine vector before, during, and after vaccination by multicolor flow cytometry. Ad5-specific CD8+ T-cells were detectable in 95% of subjects prior to vaccination, and displayed primarily an effector-type functional profile and phenotype. Peripheral blood Ad5-specific CD8+ T-cell numbers expanded after Ad5-HIV vaccination in all subjects, but differential expansion kinetics were noted in some baseline Ad5-neutralizing antibody (Ad5 nAb) seronegative subjects compared to baseline Ad5 nAb seropositive subjects. However, in neither group did vaccination alter polyfunctionality, mucosal targeting marker expression, or memory phenotype of Ad5-specific CD8+ T-cells.
Conclusions
These data indicate that repeat Ad5-vector administration in humans expands Ad5-specific CD8+ T-cells without overtly affecting their functional capacity or phenotypic properties. This is a secondary analysis of samples collected during the 016 trial. Results of the Merck 016 trial safety and immunogenicity have been previously published in the journal of clinical infectious diseases [1].
Trial Registration
ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00849680 [NCT00849680]
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0014385
PMCID: PMC3008674  PMID: 21203546
7.  Efficacy of Multivalent Adenovirus-Based Vaccine against Simian Immunodeficiency Virus Challenge ▿  
Journal of Virology  2009;84(6):2996-3003.
The prophylactic efficacies of several multivalent replication-incompetent adenovirus serotype 5 (Ad5) vaccines were examined in rhesus macaques using an intrarectal high-dose simian immunodeficiency virus SIVmac239 challenge model. Cohorts of Mamu-A*01+/B*17− Indian rhesus macaques were immunized with one of several combinations of Ad5 vectors expressing Gag, Pol, Nef, and Env gp140; for comparison, a Mamu-A*01+ cohort was immunized using the Ad5 vector alone. There was no sign of immunological interference between antigens in the immunized animals. In general, expansion of the antigen breadth resulted in more favorable virological outcomes. In particular, the order of efficacy trended as follows: Gag/Pol/Nef/Env ≈ Gag/Pol > Gag ≈ Gag/Pol/Nef > Nef. However, the precision in ranking the vaccines based on the study results may be limited by the cohort size, and as such, may warrant additional testing. The implications of these results in light of the recent discouraging results of the phase IIb study of the trivalent Ad5 HIV-1 vaccine are discussed.
doi:10.1128/JVI.00969-09
PMCID: PMC2826028  PMID: 20042509
8.  Adenovirus-Specific Immunity Following Immunization with an Ad5 HIV-1 Vaccine Candidate in Humans 
Nature medicine  2009;15(8):873-875.
The immunologic basis for the potential enhanced HIV-1 acquisition in Ad5 seropositive individuals who received the Merck rAd5 HIV-1 vaccine in the STEP study remains unclear. Here we show that baseline Ad5-specific neutralizing antibodies are not correlated with Ad5-specific T lymphocyte responses and that Ad5 seropositive subjects do not develop higher vector-specific cellular immune responses as compared with Ad5 seronegative subjects following vaccination. These findings challenge the hypothesis that activated Ad5-specific T lymphocytes were the cause of the potential enhanced HIV-1 susceptibility in the STEP study.
doi:10.1038/nm.1991
PMCID: PMC2756115  PMID: 19620961
9.  Baseline Ad5 serostatus does not predict Ad5-HIV vaccine-induced expansion of Ad-specific CD4+ T-cells 
Nature medicine  2009;15(8):876-878.
The mechanisms underlying possible increased HIV-1 acquisition in adenovirus 5 (Ad5)-seropositive subjects vaccinated with Ad5-HIV-1 vectors in the Merck STEP trial remain unclear. We find Ad5 serostatus does not predict Ad5-specific CD4+ T-cell frequency, and no durable significant differences in Ad5-specific CD4+ T-cells between Ad5-seropositive and seronegative subjects were observed following vaccination. These findings indicate no causative role for Ad5-specific CD4+ T-cells in increasing HIV-1 susceptibility in the STEP trial.
doi:10.1038/nm.1989
PMCID: PMC2723179  PMID: 19620962
10.  Safety and Immunogenicity of Adenovirus-Vectored Near-Consensus HIV Type 1 Clade B gag Vaccines in Healthy Adults 
Abstract
Vaccines inducing pathogen-specific cell-mediated immunity are being developed using attenuated adenoviral (Ad) vectors. We report the results of two independent Phase I trials of similar replication-deficient Ad5 vaccines containing a near-consensus HIV-1 clade B gag transgene. Healthy HIV-uninfected adults were enrolled in two separate, multicenter, dose-escalating, blinded, placebo-controlled studies to assess the safety and immunogenicity of a three-dose homologous regimen of Ad5 and MRKAd5 HIV-1 gag vaccines given on day 1, week 4, and week 26. Adverse events were collected for 29 days following each intradeltoid injection. The primary immunogenicity endpoint was the proportion of subjects with a positive unfractionated Gag-specific IFN-γ ELISPOT response measured 4 weeks after the last dose (week 30). Analyses were performed after combining data for each dose group from both protocols, stratifying by baseline Ad5 titers. Overall, 252 subjects were randomized to receive either vaccine or placebo, including 229 subjects (91%) who completed the study through week 30. Tolerability and immunogenicity did not appear to differ between the Ad5 and MRKAd5 vaccines. The frequency of injection-site reactions was dose dependent. Systemic adverse events were also dose dependent and more frequent in subjects with baseline Ad5 titers <200 versus ≥200, especially after the first dose. The percent of ELISPOT responders and the ELISPOT geometric means overall were significantly higher for all four vaccine doses studied compared to placebo, and were generally higher in vaccine recipients with baseline Ad5 titers <200 versus ≥200. Ad5 titers increased after vaccination in a dose-dependent fashion. Both Ad5-vectored HIV-1 vaccines were generally well tolerated and induced cell-mediated immune responses against HIV Gag-peptides in the majority of healthy adults with baseline Ad5 titers <200. Preexistent and/or vaccine-induced immunity to the Ad5 vector may dampen the CMI response to HIV Gag.
doi:10.1089/aid.2008.0212
PMCID: PMC3256563  PMID: 19108693
11.  HIV-1 vaccine-induced immunity in the test-of-concept Step Study: a case-cohort analysis 
Lancet  2008;372(9653):1894-1905.
Background
In the Step Study, the MRKAd5 HIV-1 gag/pol/nef vaccine did not lower post-infection plasma viremia, and HIV-1 incidence was higher in vaccine-treated than placebo-treated males with pre-existing adenovirus serotype 5 (Ad5) immunity. We evaluated vaccine-induced immunity and its potential contributions to infection risk.
Methods
To assess immunogenicity, HIV-specific T-cells were characterized ex vivo using validated IFN-γ ELISpot and intracellular cytokine staining (ICS) assays, employing a case-cohort design. To determine effects of vaccine and pre-existing Ad5 immunity on infection risk, flow cytometric studies measured Ad5-specific T-cells and circulating activated (Ki67+/Bcl- 2lo) CD4+ T-cells expressing CCR5.
Findings
IFN-γ-secreting HIV-specific T-cells (range, 163–686/106 PBMC) were detected ex vivo by ELISpot in 77% (258/354) of vaccinees; the majority recognized 2–3 HIV proteins. HIV- specific CD4+ T-cells were identified by ICS in 41%; ~85% expressed IL-2, and two-thirds of these co-expressed IFN-γ and/or TNF-α. HIV-specific CD8+ T-cells (range, 0.4–1.0%) were observed in 73%, expressing predominantly either IFN-γ alone or with TNF-α. No major differences were found in vaccine-induced HIV-specific immunity, including response rate, magnitude, and cytokine profile comparing vaccinated male cases (pre-infection) with non-cases. Interestingly, Ad5-specific T-cells were lower in cases than non-cases in several subgroup analyses. The percent circulating Ki67+Bcl-2lo/CCR5+ CD4+ T-cells did not differ between cases and non-cases.
Interpretation
Consistent with previous trials, the MrkAd5/HIV-1 gag/pol/nef vaccine was highly immunogenic for inducing HIV-specific CD8+ T-cells. Comparative analyses did not reveal differences in HIV-specific immunologic responses between cases and non-cases that explain the lack of vaccine efficacy and potential infection enhancement. If T-cell immunity is critical in vaccine-induced HIV protection, our findings suggest that future candidate vaccines must elicit responses that either exceed in magnitude or differ in breadth and/or function from those observed in this trial.
Funding
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, U.S. National Institute of Health; Merck Research Laboratories
doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(08)61592-5
PMCID: PMC2774110  PMID: 19012957
12.  DNA gag/Adenovirus Type 5 (Ad5) gag and Ad5 gag/Ad5 gag Vaccines Induce Distinct T-Cell Response Profiles▿  
Journal of Virology  2008;82(16):8161-8171.
Results from Merck's phase II adenovirus type 5 (Ad5) gag/pol/nef test-of-concept trial showed that the vaccine lacked efficacy against human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection in a high-risk population. Among the many questions to be explored following this outcome are whether (i) the Ad5 vaccine induced the quality of T-cell responses necessary for efficacy and (ii) the lack of efficacy in the Ad5 vaccine can be generalized to other vector approaches intended to induce HIV type 1 (HIV-1)-specific T-cell responses. Here we present a comprehensive evaluation of the T-cell response profiles from cohorts of clinical trial subjects who received the HIV CAM-1 gag insert delivered by either a regimen with DNA priming followed by Ad5 boosting (n = 50) or a homologous Ad5/Ad5 prime-boost regimen (n = 70). The samples were tested using a statistically qualified nine-color intracellular cytokine staining assay measuring interleukin-2 (IL-2), tumor necrosis factor alpha, macrophage inflammatory protein 1β, and gamma interferon production and expression of CD107a. Both vaccine regimens induced CD4+ and CD8+ HIV gag-specific T-cell responses which variably expressed several intracellular markers. Several trends were observed in which the frequencies of HIV-1-specific CD4+ T cells and IL-2 production from antigen-specific CD8+ T cells in the DNA/Ad5 cohort were more pronounced than in the Ad5/Ad5 cohort. Implications of these results for future vaccine development will be discussed.
doi:10.1128/JVI.00620-08
PMCID: PMC2519591  PMID: 18524823
13.  Broad Cross-Clade T-Cell Responses to Gag in Individuals Infected with Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 Non-B Clades (A to G): Importance of HLA Anchor Residue Conservation 
Journal of Virology  2005;79(17):11247-11258.
We aimed to identify cross-clade human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) specific T-cell responses among 10 HLA-typed individuals who were infected with non-B HIV-1 strains (A, AG, C, D, G, or F) and to correlate these responses with genetic variation in documented T-cell epitopes. T-cell reactivity was tested against peptide pools spanning clade B Gag, Pol, Nef, Rev, and Tat consensus, with Gag and Nef providing the highest responses. Nine individuals who responded to clade B Gag demonstrated cross-reactive T-cell responses against clade A and C Gag pools, while six of seven responders to Nef-B reacted to clade A and C Nef pools. An inverse correlation between the height of the T-cell responses and the sequence divergence of the HLA class I-restricted epitopes was identified when we compared autologous Gag and Nef sequences with the reactive consensus pools. This could be explained for the Gag sequences through observed variations in the HLA anchor residues. Through mapping of 30 amino acid cross-clade-reactive regions using Gag-B pools, we were able to link 58% (14/24) of the T-cell responses to regions containing previously described HLA class I-restricted epitopes. Forty-two percent (10/24) of the responses were directed to regions containing new epitopes, for which predicted HLA class I motifs could be recognized in 70% (7/10) of individuals. We demonstrate here that cross-clade T-cell responses are frequently induced in individuals infected with distinct HIV-1 clades, suggesting that interclade variation outside of HLA anchor residues may have less impact on vaccine-induced T-cell reactivity than previously thought.
doi:10.1128/JVI.79.17.11247-11258.2005
PMCID: PMC1193573  PMID: 16103177
14.  Identification of Sequential Viral Escape Mutants Associated with Altered T-Cell Responses in a Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1-Infected Individual 
Journal of Virology  2003;77(23):12430-12440.
Control of viremia in natural human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection in humans is associated with a virus-specific T-cell response. However, still much is unknown with regard to the extent of CD8+ cytotoxic T-lymphocyte (CTL) responses required to successfully control HIV-1 infection and to what extent CTL epitope escape can account for rises in viral load and ultimate progression to disease. In this study, we chose to monitor through full-length genome sequence of replication-competent biological clones the modifications that occurred within predicted CTL epitopes and to identify whether the alterations resulted in epitope escape from CTL recognition. From an extensive analysis of 59 biological HIV-1 clones generated over a period of 4 years from a single individual in whom the viral load was observed to rise, we identified the locations in the genome of five CD8+ CTL epitopes. Fixed mutations were identified within the p17, gp120, gp41, Nef, and reverse transcriptase genes. Using a gamma interferon ELIspot assay, we identified for four of the five epitopes with fixed mutations a complete loss of T-cell reactivity against the wild-type epitope and a partial loss of reactivity against the mutant epitope. These results demonstrate the sequential accumulation of CTL escape in a patient during disease progression, indicating that multiple combinations of T-cell epitopes are required to control viremia.
doi:10.1128/JVI.77.23.12430-12440.2003
PMCID: PMC262568  PMID: 14610167
15.  Comparative Immunogenicity in Rhesus Monkeys of DNA Plasmid, Recombinant Vaccinia Virus, and Replication-Defective Adenovirus Vectors Expressing a Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 gag Gene 
Journal of Virology  2003;77(11):6305-6313.
Cellular immune responses, particularly those associated with CD3+ CD8+ cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL), play a primary role in controlling viral infection, including persistent infection with human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1). Accordingly, recent HIV-1 vaccine research efforts have focused on establishing the optimal means of eliciting such antiviral CTL immune responses. We evaluated several DNA vaccine formulations, a modified vaccinia virus Ankara vector, and a replication-defective adenovirus serotype 5 (Ad5) vector, each expressing the same codon-optimized HIV-1 gag gene for immunogenicity in rhesus monkeys. The DNA vaccines were formulated with and without one of two chemical adjuvants (aluminum phosphate and CRL1005). The Ad5-gag vector was the most effective in eliciting anti-Gag CTL. The vaccine produced both CD4+ and CD8+ T-cell responses, with the latter consistently being the dominant component. To determine the effect of existing antiadenovirus immunity on Ad5-gag-induced immune responses, monkeys were exposed to adenovirus subtype 5 that did not encode antigen prior to immunization with Ad5-gag. The resulting anti-Gag T-cell responses were attenuated but not abolished. Regimens that involved priming with different DNA vaccine formulations followed by boosting with the adenovirus vector were also compared. Of the formulations tested, the DNA-CRL1005 vaccine primed T-cell responses most effectively and provided the best overall immune responses after boosting with Ad5-gag. These results are suggestive of an immunization strategy for humans that are centered on use of the adenovirus vector and in which existing adenovirus immunity may be overcome by combined immunization with adjuvanted DNA and adenovirus vector boosting.
doi:10.1128/JVI.77.11.6305-6313.2003
PMCID: PMC154996  PMID: 12743287
16.  Vaccine-Induced Immune Responses in Rodents and Nonhuman Primates by Use of a Humanized Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 pol Gene 
Journal of Virology  2002;76(1):185-194.
A synthetic gene consisting of the reverse transcriptase (RT) and integrase (IN) domains of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) pol was constructed using codons most frequently used in humans. The humanized pol gave dramatically improved levels of Rev-independent, in vitro protein production in mammalian cells and elicited much stronger cellular immunity in rodents than did virus-derived gene. Specifically, BALB/c mice were immunized with plasmids and/or recombinant vaccinia virus constructs expressing the synthetic gene. High frequencies of Pol-specific T lymphocytes were detected in these animals by the gamma interferon enzyme-linked immunospot assay against pools of short overlapping peptides. Characterization of the stimulatory peptides from these pools indicates that the optimized gene constructs are able to effectively activate both CD4+ and CD8+ T cells. Immunization of rhesus macaques with DNA vaccines expressing the humanized pol coupled to a human tissue plasminogen activator leader sequence led to pronounced in vitro cytotoxic T-lymphocyte killing activities and enhanced levels of circulating Pol-specific T cells, comparable to those observed in HIV-1-infected human subjects. Thus, optimizing the immunogenic properties of HIV-1 Pol at the level of the gene sequence validates it as an antigen and provides an important step toward the construction of a potent pol-based HIV-1 vaccine component.
doi:10.1128/JVI.76.1.185-194.2002
PMCID: PMC135696  PMID: 11739684
17.  Evaluation of Cytotoxic T-Lymphocyte Responses in Human and Nonhuman Primate Subjects Infected with Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 or Simian/Human Immunodeficiency Virus 
Journal of Virology  2001;75(1):73-82.
Cytotoxic T-lymphocyte (CTL) responses have been implicated as playing an important role in control of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. However, it is technically difficult to demonstrate CTL responses consistently in nonhuman primate and human subjects using traditional cytotoxicity assay methods. In this study, we systematically evaluated culture conditions that may affect the proliferation and expansion of CTL effector cells and presented a sensitive method for detection of cytotoxicity responses with bulk CTL cultures. We confirmed the sensitivity and specificity of this method by demonstration of vigorous CTL responses in a simian-HIV (SHIV)-infected rhesus macaque. The expansion of epitope-specific CTL effector cells was also measured quantitatively by CTL epitope-major histocompatibility complex tetramer complex staining. In addition, two new T-cell determinants in the SIV gag region are identified. Last, we showed the utility of this method for studying CTL responses in chimpanzee and human subjects.
doi:10.1128/JVI.75.1.73-82.2001
PMCID: PMC113899  PMID: 11119575

Results 1-17 (17)