Effective induction of simian immunodeficiency virus-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes in macaques by using a multiepitope gene and DNA prime-modified vaccinia virus Ankara boost vaccination regimen.
Hanke T., Samuel RV., Blanchard TJ., Neumann VC., Allen TM., Boyson JE., Sharpe SA., Cook N., Smith GL., Watkins DI., Cranage MP., McMichael AJ.
DNA and modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) are vaccine vehicles suitable and safe for use in humans. Here, by using a multicytotoxic T-lymphocyte (CTL) epitope gene and a DNA prime-MVA boost vaccination regimen, high levels of CTLs specific for a single simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) gag-derived epitope were elicited in rhesus macaques. These vaccine-induced CTLs were capable of killing SIV-infected cells in vitro. Fluorescence-activated cell sorter analysis using soluble tetrameric major histocompatibility complex-peptide complexes showed that the vaccinated animals had 1 to 5% circulating CD8(+) lymphocytes specific for the vaccine epitope, frequencies comparable to those in SIV-infected monkeys. Upon intrarectal challenge with pathogenic SIVmac251, no evidence for protection was observed in at least two of the three vaccinated animals. This study does not attempt to define correlates of protective immunity nor design a protective vaccine against immunodeficiency viruses, but it demonstrates clearly that the DNA prime-MVA boost regimen is an effective protocol for induction of CTLs in macaques. It also shows that powerful tools for studying the role of CTLs in the control of SIV and human immunodeficiency virus infections are now available: epitope-based vaccines, a protocol for an effective induction of CTLs in primates, and a simple and sensitive method for quantitation of epitope-specific T cells. The advantages of the DNA prime-MVA boost regimen as well as the correlations of tetramer staining of peripheral blood lymphocytes with CTL killing in vitro and postchallenge control of viremia are discussed.