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J Infect Dis. 2007 Jan 1;195(1):55-69. Epub 2006 Nov 22.

Immune gene networks of mycobacterial vaccine-elicited cellular responses and immunity.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Center for Primate Biomedical Research, University of Illinois at Chicago, IL, 60612, USA.


Gene networks of protective lymphocytes after immune activation with live attenuated vaccines remain poorly characterized. Because Mycobacterium bovis bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine can confer protection against fatal forms of tuberculosis in humans and monkeys, we made use of macaque models to optimally study immune gene networks after BCG vaccination/infection. We first established and validated a large-scale real-time quantitation system and then used it to measure expression levels of 138 immune genes after BCG vaccination/infection of rhesus macaques. Systemic BCG vaccination induced up to 600-fold increases in expression of 78 immune genes among the 138 genes tested at the time when BCG-elicited T cell responses and immunity were apparent. These up-regulated transcripts constituted multiple gene networks that were linked to various aspects of immune function. Surprisingly, the up-regulation of most of these immune genes in the gene networks occurred at 1 week and was sustained at > or = 6 weeks after BCG vaccination/infection. Although early activation of immune gene networks was an immune correlate of anti-BCG immunity, prolonged up-regulation of these networks coincided with the development of vaccine-elicited T cell responses after BCG vaccination/infection. These findings provide molecular evidence suggesting that the BCG-induced gene networks may represent global transcriptomes and proteomes underlying the development of T cell responses and, ultimately, immunity to mycobacteria.

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