Document Type thesis Author Name Farfan Arribas, Diego Jose URN etd-0107102-160706 Title DNA Vaccines Against HIV-1: Augmenting Immunogenicity of gp120 Degree MS Department Biology & Biotechnology Advisors David S. Adams, PhD, Advisor Shan Lu, MD, PhD, Co-Advisor Joseph C. Bagshaw, Committee Member Keywords Gene Therapy Immunology Vaccine HIV AIDS Date of Presentation/Defense 2002-01-07 Availability unrestricted
There is currently no protective vaccine against HIV. It is known that a high mutation rate and the existence of many subspecies or clades generated by point mutations or recombination events, are at least partly responsible for the ability of the virus to escape immune responses elicited by classical vaccines. Protein subunit vaccines may not be effective due to this pronounced viral mutability. An immune evasion
mechanism has been postulated in which variable domains occlude conserved epitopes crucial for infectivity. The use of DNA vaccines appeared as a favorable approach.
Here, a DNA vaccine approach is presented in which the DNA constructs have been engineered to circumvent the aforementioned problems by 1) introducing elements to enhance expression, such as a heterologous promoter, a heterologous signal sequence and intron sequences, 2) by optimizing codon usage, and 3) by vaccinating with antigens
that have a modified glycosylation pattern which will make them more immunogenic.
The results indicated that deglycosylation of different clades of gp120 did not affect the
protein conformation, and ‘in vitro’ expression levels were good. Antigen codon optimization dramatically increased antibody production. In the animals vaccinated with non-codon-optimized constructs, the presence of an intron and a heterologous signal sequence was required to achieve a good antibody response. Therefore, antigen engineering is required to obtain a powerful immune response against HIV-1 gp120.
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