Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 26208356
PLoS ONE 2015;10(7):e0133595
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-1β, IFN-γ, 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.