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Science. 1993 Mar 19;259(5102):1745-9.

Heterologous protection against influenza by injection of DNA encoding a viral protein.

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  • 1Department of Cancer Research, Merck Research Laboratories, West Point, PA 19486.


Cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) specific for conserved viral antigens can respond to different strains of virus, in contrast to antibodies, which are generally strain-specific. The generation of such CTLs in vivo usually requires endogenous expression of the antigen, as occurs in the case of virus infection. To generate a viral antigen for presentation to the immune system without the limitations of direct peptide delivery or viral vectors, plasmid DNA encoding influenza A nucleoprotein was injected into the quadriceps of BALB/c mice. This resulted in the generation of nucleoprotein-specific CTLs and protection from a subsequent challenge with a heterologous strain of influenza A virus, as measured by decreased viral lung titers, inhibition of mass loss, and increased survival.

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