Systems analysis of MVA-C induced immune response reveals its significance as a vaccine candidate against HIV/AIDS of clade C.
ABSTRACT: Based on the partial efficacy of the HIV/AIDS Thai trial (RV144) with a canarypox vector prime and protein boost, attenuated poxvirus recombinants expressing HIV-1 antigens are increasingly sought as vaccine candidates against HIV/AIDS. Here we describe using systems analysis the biological and immunological characteristics of the attenuated vaccinia virus Ankara strain expressing the HIV-1 antigens Env/Gag-Pol-Nef of HIV-1 of clade C (referred as MVA-C). MVA-C infection of human monocyte derived dendritic cells (moDCs) induced the expression of HIV-1 antigens at high levels from 2 to 8 hpi and triggered moDCs maturation as revealed by enhanced expression of HLA-DR, CD86, CD40, HLA-A2, and CD80 molecules. Infection ex vivo of purified mDC and pDC with MVA-C induced the expression of immunoregulatory pathways associated with antiviral responses, antigen presentation, T cell and B cell responses. Similarly, human whole blood or primary macrophages infected with MVA-C express high levels of proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines involved with T cell activation. The vector MVA-C has the ability to cross-present antigens to HIV-specific CD8 T cells in vitro and to increase CD8 T cell proliferation in a dose-dependent manner. The immunogenic profiling in mice after DNA-C prime/MVA-C boost combination revealed activation of HIV-1-specific CD4 and CD8 T cell memory responses that are polyfunctional and with effector memory phenotype. Env-specific IgG binding antibodies were also produced in animals receiving DNA-C prime/MVA-C boost. Our systems analysis of profiling immune response to MVA-C infection highlights the potential benefit of MVA-C as vaccine candidate against HIV/AIDS for clade C, the prevalent subtype virus in the most affected areas of the world.
Project description:In the HIV vaccine field, there is a need to produce highly immunogenic forms of the Env protein with the capacity to trigger broad B and T-cell responses. Here, we report the generation and characterization of a chimeric HIV-1 gp120 protein (termed gp120-14K) by fusing gp120 from clade B with the vaccinia virus (VACV) 14K oligomeric protein (derived from A27L gene). Stable CHO cell lines expressing HIV-1 gp120-14K protein were generated and the protein purified was characterized by size exclusion chromatography, electron microscopy and binding to anti-Env antibodies. These approaches indicate that gp120-14K protein is oligomeric and reacts with a wide spectrum of HIV-1 neutralizing antibodies. Furthermore, in human monocyte-derived dendritic cells (moDCs), gp120-14K protein upregulates the levels of several proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines associated with Th1 innate immune responses (IL-1?, IFN-?, IL-6, IL-8, IL-12, RANTES). Moreover, we showed in a murine model, that a heterologous prime/boost immunization protocol consisting of a DNA prime with a plasmid expressing gp120-14K protein followed by a boost with MVA-B [a recombinant modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) expressing HIV-1 gp120, Gag, Pol and Nef antigens from clade B], generates stronger, more polyfunctional, and greater effector memory HIV-1-specific CD4+ and CD8+ T-cell immune responses, than immunization with DNA-gp120/MVA-B. The DNA/MVA protocol was superior to immunization with the combination of protein/MVA and the latter was superior to a prime/boost of MVA/MVA or protein/protein. In addition, these immunization protocols enhanced antibody responses against gp120 of the class IgG2a and IgG3, together favoring a Th1 humoral immune response. These results demonstrate that fusing HIV-1 gp120 with VACV 14K forms an oligomeric protein which is highly antigenic as it activates a Th1 innate immune response in human moDCs, and in vaccinated mice triggers polyfunctional HIV-1-specific adaptive and memory T-cell immune responses, as well as humoral responses. This novel HIV-1 gp120-14K immunogen might be considered as an HIV vaccine candidate for broad T and B-cell immune responses.
Project description:The vaccinia virus (VACV) C6 protein has sequence similarities with the poxvirus family Pox_A46, involved in regulation of host immune responses, but its role is unknown. Here, we have characterized the C6 protein and its effects in virus replication, innate immune sensing and immunogenicity in vivo. C6 is a 18.2 kDa protein, which is expressed early during virus infection and localizes to the cytoplasm of infected cells. Deletion of the C6L gene from the poxvirus vector MVA-B expressing HIV-1 Env, Gag, Pol and Nef antigens from clade B (MVA-B ?C6L) had no effect on virus growth kinetics; therefore C6 protein is not essential for virus replication. The innate immune signals elicited by MVA-B ?C6L in human macrophages and monocyte-derived dendritic cells (moDCs) are characterized by the up-regulation of the expression of IFN-? and IFN-?/?-inducible genes. In a DNA prime/MVA boost immunization protocol in mice, flow cytometry analysis revealed that MVA-B ?C6L enhanced the magnitude and polyfunctionality of the HIV-1-specific CD4+ and CD8+ T-cell memory immune responses, with most of the HIV-1 responses mediated by the CD8+ T-cell compartment with an effector phenotype. Significantly, while MVA-B induced preferentially Env- and Gag-specific CD8+ T-cell responses, MVA-B ?C6L induced more Gag-Pol-Nef-specific CD8+ T-cell responses. Furthermore, MVA-B ?C6L enhanced the levels of antibodies against Env in comparison with MVA-B. These findings revealed that C6 can be considered as an immunomodulator and that deleting C6L gene in MVA-B confers an immunological benefit by enhancing IFN-?-dependent responses and increasing the magnitude and quality of the T-cell memory immune responses to HIV-1 antigens. Our observations are relevant for the improvement of MVA vectors as HIV-1 vaccines.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>The immune parameters of HIV/AIDS vaccine candidates that might be relevant in protection against HIV-1 infection are still undefined. The highly attenuated poxvirus strain MVA is one of the most promising vectors to be use as HIV-1 vaccine. We have previously described a recombinant MVA expressing HIV-1 Env, Gag, Pol and Nef antigens from clade B (referred as MVA-B), that induced HIV-1-specific immune responses in different animal models and gene signatures in human dendritic cells (DCs) with immunoregulatory function.<h4>Methodology/principal findings</h4>In an effort to characterize in more detail the immunogenic profile of MVA-B and to improve its immunogenicity we have generated a new vector lacking two genes (A41L and B16R), known to counteract host immune responses by blocking the action of CC-chemokines and of interleukin 1beta, respectively (referred as MVA-B DeltaA41L/DeltaB16R). A DNA prime/MVA boost immunization protocol was used to compare the adaptive and memory HIV-1 specific immune responses induced in mice by the parental MVA-B and by the double deletion mutant MVA-B DeltaA41L/DeltaB16R. Flow cytometry analysis revealed that both vectors triggered HIV-1-specific CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells, with the CD8(+) T-cell compartment responsible for >91.9% of the total HIV-1 responses in both immunization groups. However, MVA-B DeltaA41L/DeltaB16R enhanced the magnitude and polyfunctionality of the HIV-1-specific CD4(+) and CD8(+) T-cell immune responses. HIV-1-specific CD4(+) T-cell responses were polyfunctional and preferentially Env-specific in both immunization groups. Significantly, while MVA-B induced preferentially Env-specific CD8(+) T-cell responses, MVA-B DeltaA41L/DeltaB16R induced more GPN-specific CD8(+) T-cell responses, with an enhanced polyfunctional pattern. Both vectors were capable of producing similar levels of antibodies against Env.<h4>Conclusions/significance</h4>These findings revealed that MVA-B and MVA-B DeltaA41L/DeltaB16R induced in mice robust, polyfunctional and durable T-cell responses to HIV-1 antigens, but the double deletion mutant showed enhanced magnitude and quality of HIV-1 adaptive and memory responses. Our observations are relevant in the immune evaluation of MVA-B and on improvements of MVA vectors as HIV-1 vaccines.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>In non-human primates (NHPs) and humans, partial protection from HIV/SIV infection or suppression of replication is achievable by Env-binding antibodies and Gag-specific CD8+ T-cells targeting protective epitopes. Unfortunately, such T-cell responses are frequently dominated by responses to non-protective, variable epitopes. In this study we attempt to combine three independent approaches, each developed to prevent immunodominance of non-protective epitopes. These approaches were (1) vaccines consisting exclusively of putatively protective p24 Gag highly conserved elements (CEs), (2) vaccines using solely subdominant antigens which were acutely protective in a recent NHP trial, and (3) virus-encoded virus-like particle vaccines (virus-like vaccines/VLVs) using heterologous Env and Gag sequences to enable selection of broadly cross-reactive responses and to avoid immunodominance of non-conserved sequences in prime-boost regimens as previously observed.<h4>Methods</h4>We vaccinated outbred CD1 mice with HIV-1 clade B Gag/Env encoded in an adenoviral prime and SIVmac239 Gag/Env in an MVA boost. We combined this completely heterologous immunization regimen and the homologous SIVmac239 Gag/Env immunization regimen with an additional prime encoding SIV CEs and accessory antigens Rev, Vif and Vpr (Ad-Ii-SIVCErvv). T-cell responses were analyzed by intracellular cytokine staining of splenocytes and antibody responses by trimer-specific ELISA, avidity and isotype-specific ELISA.<h4>Results</h4>Env dominance could be avoided successfully in the completely heterologous prime-boost regimen, but Env immunodominance reappeared when Ad-Ii-SIVCErvv was added to the prime. This regimen did however still induce more cross-reactive Gag-specific CD8+ T-cells and Env-specific antibodies. Including Ad-Ii-SIVCErvv in the homologous prime-boost not only elicited accessory antigen-specific CD8+ memory T-cells, but also significantly increased the ratio of Gag- to Env-specific CD8+ T-cells. The CD4+ T-cell response shifted away from structural antigens previously associated with infection-enhancement.<h4>Conclusion</h4>The homologous Gag/Env prime-boost with Ad-Ii-SIVCErvv prime combined acutely protective CD8+ T-cell responses to subdominant antigens and Env-binding antibodies with chronically protective Gag-specific CD8+ T-cells in outbred mice. This vaccine regimen should be tested in an NHP efficacy trial.
Project description:We characterized prime-boost vaccine regimens using heterologous and homologous vector and gene inserts. Heterologous regimens offer a promising approach that focuses the cell-mediated immune response on the insert and away from vector-dominated responses. Ad35-GRIN/ENV (Ad35-GE) vaccine is comprised of two vectors containing sequences from HIV-1 subtype A gag, rt, int, nef (Ad35-GRIN) and env (Ad35-ENV). MVA-CMDR (MVA-C), MVA-KEA (MVA-K) and MVA-TZC (MVA-T) vaccines contain gag, env and pol genes from HIV-1 subtypes CRF01_AE, A and C, respectively. Balb/c mice were immunized with different heterologous and homologous vector and insert prime-boost combinations. HIV and vector-specific immune responses were quantified post-boost vaccination. Gag-specific IFN-? ELISPOT, intracellular cytokine staining (ICS) (CD107a, IFN-?, TNF-? and IL-2), pentamer staining and T-cell phenotyping were used to differentiate responses to inserts and vectors. Ad35-GE prime followed by boost with any of the recombinant MVA constructs (rMVA) induced CD8+ Gag-specific responses superior to Ad35-GE-Ad35-GE or rMVA-rMVA prime-boost combinations. Notably, there was a shift toward insert-focus responses using heterologous vector prime-boost regimens. Gag-specific central and effector memory T cells were generated more rapidly and in greater numbers in the heterologous compared to the homologous prime-boost regimens. These results suggest that heterologous prime-boost vaccination regimens enhance immunity by increasing the magnitude, onset and multifunctionality of the insert-specific cell-mediated immune response compared to homologous vaccination regimens. This study supports the rationale for testing heterologous prime-boost regimens in humans.
Project description:Vaccinia virus (VACV) encodes an anti-apoptotic Bcl-2-like protein F1 that acts as an inhibitor of caspase-9 and of the Bak/Bax checkpoint but the role of this gene in immune responses is not known. Because dendritic cells that have phagocytosed apoptotic infected cells cross-present viral antigens to cytotoxic T cells inducing an antigen-specific immunity, we hypothesized that deletion of the viral anti-apoptotic F1L gene might have a profound effect on the capacity of poxvirus vectors to activate specific immune responses to virus-expressed recombinant antigens. This has been tested in a mouse model with an F1L deletion mutant of the HIV/AIDS vaccine candidate MVA-C that expresses Env and Gag-Pol-Nef antigens (MVA-C-?F1L). The viral gene F1L is not required for virus replication in cultured cells and its deletion in MVA-C induces extensive apoptosis and expression of immunomodulatory genes in infected cells. Analysis of the immune responses induced in BALB/c mice after DNA prime/MVA boost revealed that, in comparison with parental MVA-C, the mutant MVA-C-?F1L improves the magnitude of the HIV-1-specific CD8 T cell adaptive immune responses and impacts on the CD8 T cell memory phase by enhancing the magnitude of the response, reducing the contraction phase and changing the memory differentiation pattern. These findings reveal the immunomodulatory role of F1L and that the loss of this gene is a valid strategy for the optimization of MVA as vaccine vector.
Project description:Modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) is a safe, attenuated orthopoxvirus that is being developed as a vaccine vector but has demonstrated limited immunogenicity in several early-phase clinical trials. Our objective was to rationally improve the immunogenicity of MVA-based HIV/AIDS vaccines via the targeted deletion of specific poxvirus immune-modulatory genes. Vaccines expressing codon-optimized HIV subtype C consensus Env and Gag antigens were generated from MVA vector backbones that (i) harbor simultaneous deletions of four viral immune-modulatory genes, encoding an interleukin-18 (IL-18) binding protein, an IL-1? receptor, a dominant negative Toll/IL-1 signaling adapter, and CC-chemokine binding protein (MVA?4-HIV); (ii) harbor a deletion of an additional (fifth) viral gene, encoding uracil-DNA glycosylase (MVA?5-HIV); or (iii) represent the parental MVA backbone as a control (MVA-HIV). We performed head-to-head comparisons of the cellular and humoral immune responses that were elicited by these vectors during homologous prime-boost immunization regimens utilizing either high-dose (2 × 10(8) PFU) or low-dose (1 × 10(7) PFU) intramuscular immunization of rhesus macaques. At all time points, a majority of the HIV-specific T cell responses, elicited by all vectors, were directed against Env, rather than Gag, determinants, as previously observed with other vector systems. Both modified vectors elicited up to 6-fold-higher frequencies of HIV-specific CD8 and CD4 T cell responses and up to 25-fold-higher titers of Env (gp120)-specific binding (nonneutralizing) antibody responses that were relatively transient in nature. While the correlates of protection against HIV infection remain incompletely defined, our results indicate that the rational deletion of specific genes from MVA vectors can positively alter their cellular and humoral immunogenicity profiles in nonhuman primates.
Project description:There is an urgent need for the development of potent vaccination regimens that are able to induce specific T and B cell responses against human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1). Here, we describe the generation and characterization of a fusion antigen comprised of the HIV-1 envelope GP120 glycoprotein from clade C (GP120C) fused at its C-terminus, with the modified vaccinia virus (VACV) 14K protein (A27L gene) (termed GP120C14K). The design is directed toward improving the immunogenicity of the GP120C protein through its oligomerization facilitated by the fused VACV 14K protein that results in hexamer-like structures. Two different immunogens were generated: a recombinant GP120C14K fusion protein (purified from a stable CHO-K1 cell line) and a recombinant modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) poxvirus vector expressing the GP120C14K fusion protein (termed MVA-GP120C14K). The GP120C14K fusion protein is recognized by broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs) against HIV-1. In a murine model, a heterologous prime/boost immunization regimen with MVA-GP120C14K prime followed by adjuvanted GP120C14K protein boost generated stronger and polyfunctional HIV-1 Env-specific CD8 T cell responses when compared with the delivery of the monomeric GP120C form. Furthermore, the immunization protocol MVA-GP120C14K/GP120C14K elicited higher HIV-1 Env-specific T follicular helper cells, germinal center B cells and antibody responses than monomeric GP120. In addition, a similar MVA-GP120C14K prime/GP120C14K protein boost regimen performed in rabbits triggered high HIV-1-Env-specific IgG binding antibody titers that were capable of neutralizing HIV-1 pseudoviruses. The extent of HIV-1 neutralization was comparable to that elicited by the current standard GP140 SOSIP trimers from clades B and C when immunized as MVA-SOSIP prime/SOSIP protein boost regimen. Overall, the novel fusion antigen and the corresponding immunization scheme provided in this report can therefore be considered as potential vaccine strategies against HIV-1.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Modified Vaccinia Ankara (MVA) is an attenuated strain of Vaccinia virus (VACV) currently employed in many clinical trials against HIV/AIDS and other diseases. MVA still retains genes involved in host immune response evasion, enabling its optimization by removing some of them. The aim of this study was to evaluate cellular immune responses (CIR) induced by an IL-18 binding protein gene (C12L) deleted vector (MVA?C12L).<h4>Methodology/principal findings</h4>BALB/c and C57BL/6 mice were immunized with different doses of MVA?C12L or MVA wild type (MVAwt), then CIR to VACV epitopes in immunogenic proteins were evaluated in spleen and draining lymph nodes at acute and memory phases (7 and 40 days post-immunization respectively). Compared with parental MVAwt, MVA?C12L immunization induced a significant increase of two to three-fold in CD8(+) and CD4(+) T-cell responses to different VACV epitopes, with increased percentage of anti-VACV cytotoxic CD8(+) T-cells (CD107a/b(+)) during the acute phase of the response. Importantly, the immunogenicity enhancement was also observed after MVA?C12L inoculation with different viral doses and by distinct routes (systemic and mucosal). Potentiation of MVA's CIR was also observed during the memory phase, in correlation with a higher protection against an intranasal challenge with VACV WR. Of note, we could also show a significant increase in the CIR against HIV antigens such as Env, Gag, Pol and Nef from different subtypes expressed from two recombinants of MVA?C12L during heterologous DNA prime/MVA boost vaccination regimens.<h4>Conclusions/significance</h4>This study demonstrates the relevance of IL-18 bp contribution in the immune response evasion during MVA infection. Our findings clearly show that the deletion of the viral IL-18 bp gene is an effective approach to increase MVA vaccine efficacy, as immunogenicity improvements were observed against vector antigens and more importantly to HIV antigens.
Project description:Effective vaccine design relies on accurate knowledge of protection against a pathogen, so as to be able to induce relevant and effective protective responses against it. An ideal Human Immunodeficiency virus (HIV) vaccine should induce humoral as well as cellular immune responses to prevent initial infection of host cells or limit early events of viral dissemination. A Phase I HIV-1 prophylactic vaccine trial sponsored by the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) was conducted in India in 2009.The trial tested a HIV-1 subtype C vaccine in a prime-boost regimen, comprising of a DNA prime (ADVAX) and Modified Vaccine Ankara (MVA) (TBC-M4) boost. The trial reported that the vaccine regimen was safe, well tolerated, and resulted in enhancement of HIV-specific immune responses. However, preliminary immunological studies were limited to vaccine-induced IFN-? responses against the Env and Gag peptides. The present study is a retrospective study to characterize in detail the nature of the vaccine-induced cell mediated immune responses among volunteers, using Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells (PBMC) that were archived during the trial. ELISpot was used to measure IFN-? responses and polyfunctional T cells were analyzed by intracellular multicolor flow cytometry. It was observed that DNA priming and MVA boosting induced Env and Gag specific bi-functional and multi-functional CD4+ and CD8+ T cells expressing IFN-?, TNF-? and IL-2. The heterologous prime-boost regimen appeared to be slightly superior to the homologous prime-boost regimen in inducing favorable cell mediated immune responses. These results suggest that an in-depth analysis of vaccine-induced cellular immune response can aid in the identification of correlates of an effective immunogenic response, and inform future design of HIV vaccines.