The vaccinia virus Guang9 strain (VG9), derived from the vaccinia virus Tian Tan strain (VTT) has been found to be less virulent than VTT.
To investigate whether VG9 could be a potential replicating virus vector, the TK genes in VG9 and VTT were replaced with the HIV-1 envelope gene via homologous recombination, resulting in the recombinant viruses, VG9-E and VTT-E. The biology, virulence, humoral and cellular immunological responses of VG9-E and VTT-E were evaluated. Our results indicated no obvious difference in range of host cells and diffusion between two recombinant viruses. Neurovirulence for VG9-E in weanling and suckling mice, and skin virulence in rabbits, were lower than that of VTT-E. The humoral immune responses, including binding antibody and neutralizing antibody responses, induced by VG9-E were not significantly different from those for VTT-E whilst IFN-γ response which represented cellular immune response induced by VG9-E was significantly higher than that did by VTT-E.
Our results indicated that VG9-E was less virulent, yet induced higher cellular immune response than VTT-E. Therefore, it could be an ideal replicating vaccinia vector for HIV vaccine research and development.