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J Virol. 2013 Jul;87(13):7246-54. doi: 10.1128/JVI.00798-13. Epub 2013 May 1.

Influence of mismatch of Env sequences on vaccine protection by live attenuated simian immunodeficiency virus.

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  • 1New England Primate Research Center, Harvard Medical School, Southborough, Massachusetts, USA.


Vaccine/challenge experiments that utilize live attenuated strains of simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) in monkeys may be useful for elucidating what is needed from a vaccine in order to achieve protective immunity. Derivatives of SIVmac239 and SIVmac239Δnef were constructed in which env sequences were replaced with those of the heterologous strain E543; these were then used in vaccine/challenge experiments. When challenge occurred at 22 weeks, 10 of 12 monkeys exhibited apparent sterilizing immunity despite a mismatch of Env sequences, compared to 12 of 12 monkeys with apparent sterilizing immunity when challenge virus was matched in its Env sequence. However, when challenge occurred at 6 weeks, 6 of 6 SIV239Δnef-immunized monkeys became superinfected by challenge virus mismatched in its Env sequence (SIV239/EnvE543). These results contrast markedly not only with the results of the week 22 challenge but also with the sterilizing immunity observed in 5 of 5 SIV239Δnef-immunized rhesus monkeys challenged at 5 weeks with SIV239, i.e., with no mismatch of Env sequences. We conclude from these studies that a mismatch of Env sequences in the challenge virus can have a dramatic effect on the extent of apparent sterilizing immunity when challenge occurs relatively early, 5 to 6 weeks after the nef-deleted SIV administration. However, by 22 weeks, mismatch of Env sequences has little or no influence on the degree of protection against challenge virus. Our findings suggest that anti-Env immune responses are a key component of the protective immunity elicited by live attenuated, nef-deleted SIV.

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