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J Virol. 1996 Apr;70(4):2247-51.

Construction and characterization of replication-competent simian immunodeficiency virus vectors that express gamma interferon.

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International Laboratory of Molecular Biology for Tropical Disease Agents, Department of Veterinary Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology, University of California,Davis 95616, USA.


We report the construction and characterization of several replication-competent simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) vectors with a deletion in the viral nef gene (SIV(delta nef)) that express gamma interferon (IFN-gamma). The expression of the cytokine gene was controlled either by the simian virus 40 early promoter or by the SIV 5' long terminal repeat regulatory sequences, utilizing the nef gene splice signals. To enhance the expression of IFN-gamma, the two in-frame nef start codons were mutated without altering the Env amino acid sequence (SIV(HyIFN)). Plasmids containing full-length proviral genomes were used to obtain high-titer stocks of each recombinant virus in cell cultures. Expression of IFN-gamma by SIV(HyIFN) reached levels as high as 10(6) U/ml after 11 days in culture. The IFN-gamma gene was unstable and sustained deletions after serial passage of SIV(delta nef) vectors in CEM-X-174 cells. The degree of instability appears to depend on size and orientation of the insert and the expression of IFN-gamma. Only one virus, SIV(HyIFN), expressed detectable levels of IFN-gamma up to the sixth passage. Prospects for the use of IFN-gamma and other lymphokines to enhance the safety and efficacy of live attenuated vaccines are discussed.

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