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J Virol. 1997 Apr;71(4):3031-8.

Humoral, mucosal, and cellular immunity in response to a human immunodeficiency virus type 1 immunogen expressed by a Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus vaccine vector.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, School of Medicine, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill 27599, USA.


A molecularly cloned attenuated strain of Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEE) has been genetically configured as a replication-competent vaccine vector for the expression of heterologous viral proteins (N. L. Davis, K. W. Brown, and R. E. Johnston, J. Virol. 70:3781-3787, 1996). The matrix/capsid (MA/CA) coding domain of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) was cloned into the VEE vector to determine the ability of a VEE vector to stimulate an anti-HIV immune response in mice. The VEE-MA/CA vector replicated rapidly in the cytoplasm of baby hamster kidney (BHK) cells and expressed large quantities of antigenically identifiable MA/CA protein. When injected subcutaneously into BALB/c mice, the vector invaded and replicated in the draining lymphoid tissues, expressing HIV-1 MA/CA at a site of potent immune activity. Anti-MA/CA immunoglobulin G (IgG) and IgA antibodies were present in serum of all immunized mice, and titers increased after a second booster inoculation. IgA antibodies specific for MA/CA were detected in vaginal washes of mice that received two subcutaneous immunizations. Cytotoxic T-lymphocyte responses specific for MA/CA were detected following immunization with the MA/CA-expressing VEE vector. These findings demonstrate the ability of a VEE-based vaccine vector system to stimulate a comprehensive humoral and cellular immune response. The multifaceted nature of this response makes VEE an attractive vaccine for immunization against virus infections such as HIV-1, for which the correlates of protective immunity remain unclear, but may include multiple components of the immune system.

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