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Hum Gene Ther. 2010 Jul;21(7):891-901. doi: 10.1089/hum.2009.148.

Protective immunity against a lethal respiratory Yersinia pestis challenge induced by V antigen or the F1 capsular antigen incorporated into adenovirus capsid.

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Department of Genetic Medicine, Weill Cornell Medical College , New York, NY 10026, USA.


The aerosol form of the bacterium Yersinia pestis causes pneumonic plague, a rapidly fatal disease that is a biothreat if deliberately released. At present, no plague vaccines are available for use in the United States, but subunit vaccines based on the Y. pestis V antigen and F1 capsular protein show promise when administered with adjuvants. In the context that adenovirus (Ad) gene transfer vectors have a strong adjuvant potential related to the ability to directly infect dendritic cells, we hypothesized that modification of the Ad5 capsid to display either the Y. pestis V antigen or the F1 capsular antigen on the virion surface would elicit high V antigen- or F1-specific antibody titers, permit boosting with the same Ad serotype, and provide better protection against a lethal Y. pestis challenge than immunization with equivalent amounts of V or F1 recombinant protein plus conventional adjuvant. We constructed AdYFP-pIX/V and AdLacZ-pIX/F1, E1(-), E3(-) serotype 5 Ad gene transfer vectors containing a fusion of the sequence for either the Y. pestis V antigen or the F1 capsular antigen to the carboxy-terminal sequence of pIX, a capsid protein that can accommodate the entire V antigen (37 kDa) or F1 protein (15 kDa) without disturbing Ad function. Immunization with AdYFP-pIX/V followed by a single repeat administration of the same vector at the same dose resulted in significantly better protection of immunized animals compared with immunization with a molar equivalent amount of purified recombinant V antigen plus Alhydrogel adjuvant. Similarly, immunization with AdLacZ-pIX/F1 in a prime-boost regimen resulted in significantly enhanced protection of immunized animals compared with immunization with a molar-equivalent amount of purified recombinant F1 protein plus adjuvant. These observations demonstrate that Ad vaccine vectors containing pathogen-specific antigens fused to the pIX capsid protein have strong adjuvant properties and stimulate more robust protective immune responses than equivalent recombinant protein-based subunit vaccines administered with conventional adjuvant, suggesting that F1-and/or V-modified capsid Ad-based recombinant vaccines should be considered for development as anti-plague vaccines.

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