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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2000 Jun 6;97(12):6676-80.

A fusion DNA vaccine that targets antigen-presenting cells increases protection from viral challenge.

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  • 1Cooperative Research Center for Vaccine Technology, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Melbourne, Melbourne 3052, Australia.


Improving the immunological potency, particularly the Ab response, is a serious hurdle for the protective efficacy and hence broad application of DNA vaccines. We examined the immunogenicity and protective efficacy of a hemagglutinin-based influenza DNA vaccine that was targeted to antigen-presenting cells (APCs) by fusion to CTLA4. The targeted vaccine was shown to induce an accelerated and increased Ab response (as compared with those receiving the nontargeted control) that was predominated by IgG1 and recognized conformationally dependent viral epitopes. Moreover, mice receiving the APC-targeted DNA vaccine had significantly reduced viral titers (100-fold) after a nonlethal virus challenge. The increased protective efficacy was most likely because of increased Ab responses, as cytotoxic T lymphocyte responses were not enhanced. Targeting was demonstrated by direct binding studies of CTLA4 fusion proteins to the cognate ligand (B7; expressed on APCs in vivo). In addition, a targeted protein was detected at 4-fold higher levels in draining lymph nodes within 2-24 h of administration. Therefore, this study demonstrates that targeting DNA-encoded antigen to APCs results in enhanced immunity and strongly suggests that this approach may be useful in improving the protective efficacy of DNA vaccines.

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