Publications by authors named "Mariano Esteban"

186 Publications

The combined vaccination protocol of DNA/MVA expressing Zika virus structural proteins as efficient inducer of T and B cell immune responses.

Emerg Microbes Infect 2021 Dec;10(1):1441-1456

Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Centro Nacional de Biotecnología (CNB), Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), Madrid, Spain.

Zika virus (ZIKV) is a mosquito-borne pathogen with public health importance due to the high risk of its mosquito vector dissemination and the severe neurological and teratogenic sequelae associated with infection. Vaccines with broad immune specificity and control against this re-emerging virus are needed. Here, we described that mice immunized with a priming dose of a DNA plasmid mammalian expression vector encoding ZIKV prM-E antigens (DNA-ZIKV) followed by a booster dose of a modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) vector expressing the same prM-E ZIKV antigens (MVA-ZIKV) induced broad, polyfunctional and long-lasting ZIKV-specific CD4 and CD8 T-cell immune responses, with high levels of CD4 T follicular helper cells, together with the induction of neutralizing antibodies. All those immune parameters were significantly stronger in the heterologous DNA-ZIKV/MVA-ZIKV immunization group compared to the homologous prime/boost immunizations regimens. Collectively, these results provided an optimized immunization protocol able to induce high levels of ZIKV-specific T-cell responses, as well as neutralizing antibodies and reinforce the combined use of DNA-based vectors and MVA-ZIKV as promising prophylactic vaccination schedule against ZIKV.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/22221751.2021.1951624DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8284158PMC
December 2021

Plasma ACE2 species are differentially altered in COVID-19 patients.

FASEB J 2021 08;35(8):e21745

Instituto de Neurociencias de Alicante, Universidad Miguel Hernández-CSIC, San Juan de Alicante, Spain.

Studies are needed to identify useful biomarkers to assess the severity and prognosis of COVID-19 disease, caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) virus. Here, we examine the levels of various plasma species of the SARS-CoV-2 host receptor, the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), in patients at different phases of the infection. Human plasma ACE2 species were characterized by immunoprecipitation and western blotting employing antibodies against the ectodomain and the C-terminal domain, using a recombinant human ACE2 protein as control. In addition, changes in the cleaved and full-length ACE2 species were also examined in serum samples derived from humanized K18-hACE2 mice challenged with a lethal dose of SARS-CoV-2. ACE2 immunoreactivity was present in human plasma as several molecular mass species that probably comprise truncated (70 and 75 kDa) and full-length forms (95, 100, 130, and 170 kDa). COVID-19 patients in the acute phase of infection (n = 46) had significantly decreased levels of ACE2 full-length species, while a truncated 70-kDa form was marginally higher compared with non-disease controls (n = 26). Levels of ACE2 full-length species were in the normal range in patients after a recovery period with an interval of 58-70 days (n = 29), while the 70-kDa species decreased. Levels of the truncated ACE2 species served to discriminate between individuals infected by SARS-CoV-2 and those infected with influenza A virus (n = 17). In conclusion, specific plasma ACE2 species are altered in patients with COVID-19 and these changes normalize during the recovery phase. Alterations in ACE2 species following SARS-CoV-2 infection warrant further investigation regarding their potential usefulness as biomarkers for the disease process and to asses efficacy during vaccination.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1096/fj.202100051RDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8441911PMC
August 2021

Neutrophil subtypes shape HIV-specific CD8 T-cell responses after vaccinia virus infection.

NPJ Vaccines 2021 Apr 12;6(1):52. Epub 2021 Apr 12.

Institute for Research in Biomedicine, Università della Svizzera Italiana, Bellinzona, Switzerland.

Neutrophils are innate immune cells involved in the elimination of pathogens and can also induce adaptive immune responses. Nα and Nβ neutrophils have been described with distinct in vitro capacity to generate antigen-specific CD8 T-cell responses. However, how these cell types exert their role in vivo and how manipulation of Nβ/Nα ratio influences vaccine-mediated immune responses are not known. In this study, we find that these neutrophil subtypes show distinct migratory and motility patterns and different ability to interact with CD8 T cells in the spleen following vaccinia virus (VACV) infection. Moreover, after analysis of adhesion, inflammatory, and migration markers, we observe that Nβ neutrophils overexpress the α4β1 integrin compared to Nα. Finally, by inhibiting α4β1 integrin, we increase the Nβ/Nα ratio and enhance CD8 T-cell responses to HIV VACV-delivered antigens. These findings provide significant advancements in the comprehension of neutrophil-based control of adaptive immune system and their relevance in vaccine design.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41541-021-00314-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8041892PMC
April 2021

SUMOylation modulates the stability and function of PI3K-p110β.

Cell Mol Life Sci 2021 Apr 8;78(8):4053-4065. Epub 2021 Apr 8.

Centro de Investigación en Medicina Molecular (CIMUS), CIMUS, P2L7, Universidade de Santiago de Compostela and Instituto de Investigaciones Sanitarias (IDIS), Avda Barcelona, 15706, Santiago de Compostela, Spain.

Class I PI3K are heterodimers composed of a p85 regulatory subunit and a p110 catalytic subunit involved in multiple cellular functions. Recently, the catalytic subunit p110β has emerged as a class I PI3K isoform playing a major role in tumorigenesis. Understanding its regulation is crucial for the control of the PI3K pathway in p110β-driven cancers. Here we sought to evaluate the putative regulation of p110β by SUMO. Our data show that p110β can be modified by SUMO1 and SUMO2 in vitro, in transfected cells and under completely endogenous conditions, supporting the physiological relevance of p110β SUMOylation. We identify lysine residue 952, located at the activation loop of p110β, as essential for SUMOylation. SUMOylation of p110β stabilizes the protein increasing its activation of AKT which promotes cell growth and oncogenic transformation. Finally, we show that the regulatory subunit p85β counteracts the conjugation of SUMO to p110β. In summary, our data reveal that SUMO is a novel p110β interacting partner with a positive effect on the activation of the PI3K pathway.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00018-021-03826-6DOI Listing
April 2021

Emerging SARS-CoV-2 Variants and Impact in Global Vaccination Programs against SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19.

Vaccines (Basel) 2021 Mar 11;9(3). Epub 2021 Mar 11.

Centro Nacional de Biotecnología, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CNB-CSIC), Campus de Cantoblanco, 28049 Madrid, Spain.

The emergence of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) variants in different continents is causing a major concern in human global health. These variants have in common a higher transmissibility, becoming dominant within populations in a short time, and an accumulation of a high number of mutations in the spike (S) protein, especially within the amino terminal domain (NTD) and the receptor binding domain (RBD). These mutations have direct implications on virus infection rates through higher affinity of S RBD for the cellular angiotensin-converting enzyme-2 (ACE-2) receptor. There are also signs of enhanced virulence, re-infection frequency, and increased resistance to the action of monoclonal and polyclonal antibodies from convalescence sera and in vaccinated individuals in regions where the variants spread dominantly. In this review, we describe the different SARS-CoV-2 variants that have thus far been identified in various parts of the world with mutational changes and biological properties as well as their impact in medical countermeasures and human health.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/vaccines9030243DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7999234PMC
March 2021

COVID-19 vaccine candidates based on modified vaccinia virus Ankara expressing the SARS-CoV-2 spike induce robust T- and B-cell immune responses and full efficacy in mice.

J Virol 2021 Jan 7. Epub 2021 Jan 7.

Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Centro Nacional de Biotecnología (CNB), Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), 28049 Madrid, Spain;

Vaccines against SARS-CoV-2, the causative agent of the COVID-19 pandemic, are urgently needed. We developed two COVID-19 vaccines based on modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) vectors expressing the entire SARS-CoV-2 spike (S) protein (MVA-CoV2-S); their immunogenicity was evaluated in mice using DNA/MVA or MVA/MVA prime/boost immunizations. Both vaccines induced robust, broad and polyfunctional S-specific CD4+ (mainly Th1) and CD8+ T-cell responses, with a T effector memory phenotype. DNA/MVA immunizations elicited higher T-cell responses. All vaccine regimens triggered high titers of IgG antibodies specific for the S, as well as for the receptor-binding domain; the predominance of the IgG2c isotype was indicative of Th1 immunity. Notably, serum samples from vaccinated mice neutralized SARS-CoV-2 in cell cultures, and those from MVA/MVA immunizations showed a higher neutralizing capacity. Remarkably, one or two doses of MVA-CoV2-S protect humanized K18-hACE2 mice from a lethal dose of SARS-CoV-2. In addition, two doses of MVA-CoV2-S confer full inhibition of virus replication in the lungs. These results demonstrate the robust immunogenicity and full efficacy of MVA-based COVID-19 vaccines in animal models and support its translation to the clinic. The continuous dissemination of the novel emerging SARS-CoV-2 virus, with more than 78 million infected cases worldwide and higher than 1,700,000 deaths as of December 23, 2020, highlights the urgent need for the development of novel vaccines against COVID-19. With this aim, we have developed novel vaccine candidates based on the poxvirus modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) strain expressing the full-length SARS-CoV-2 spike (S) protein, and we have evaluated their immunogenicity in mice using DNA/MVA or MVA/MVA prime/boost immunization protocols. The results showed the induction of a potent S-specific T-cell response and high titers of neutralizing antibodies. Remarkably, humanized K18-hACE2 mice immunized with one or two doses of the MVA-based vaccine were 100% protected from SARS-CoV-2 lethality. Moreover, two doses of the vaccine prevented virus replication in lungs. Our findings prove the robust immunogenicity and efficacy of MVA-based COVID-19 vaccines in animal models and support its translation to the clinic.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/JVI.02260-20DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8092708PMC
January 2021

Immune Profiles Identification by Vaccinomics After MVA Immunization in Randomized Clinical Study.

Front Immunol 2020 10;11:586124. Epub 2020 Nov 10.

Sorbonne Université, Inserm, Centre d'Immunologie et des Maladies Infectieuses (CIMIParis), Paris, France.

Background: Our previous work has demonstrated the benefits of transcutaneous immunization in targeting Langerhans cells and preferentially inducing CD8 T-cell responses.

Methods: In this randomized phase Ib clinical trial including 20 HIV uninfected volunteers, we compared the safety and immunogenicity of the MVA recombinant vaccine expressing HIV-B antigen (MVA-B) by transcutaneous and intramuscular routes. We hypothesized that the quality of innate and adaptive immunity differs according to the route of immunization and explored the quality of the vector vaccine-induced immune responses. We also investigated the early blood transcriptome and serum cytokine levels to identify innate events correlated with the strength and quality of adaptive immunity.

Results: We demonstrate that MVA-B vaccine is safe by both routes, but that the quality and intensity of both innate and adaptive immunity differ significantly. Transcutaneous vaccination promoted CD8 responses in the absence of antibodies and slightly affected gene expression, involving mainly genes associated with metabolic pathways. Intramuscular vaccination, on the other hand, drove robust changes in the expression of genes involved in IL-6 and interferon signalling pathways, mainly those associated with humoral responses, and also some levels of CD8 response.

Conclusion: Thus, vaccine delivery route perturbs early innate responses that shape the quality of adaptive immunity.

Clinical Trial Registration: http://ClinicalTrials.gov, identifier PER-073-13.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2020.586124DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7683801PMC
June 2021

Enhancement of HIV-1 Env-Specific CD8 T Cell Responses Using Interferon-Stimulated Gene 15 as an Immune Adjuvant.

J Virol 2020 12 22;95(2). Epub 2020 Dec 22.

Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health and Microbiology, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Madrid, Spain

Induction of the endogenous innate immune system by interferon (IFN) triggers the expression of many proteins that serve like alarm bells in the body, activating an immune response. After a viral infection, one of the genes activated by IFN induction is the IFN-stimulated gene 15 (), which encodes a ubiquitin-like protein that undergoes a reversible posttranslational modification (ISGylation). ISG15 protein can also act unconjugated, intracellularly and secreted, acting as a cytokine. Although ISG15 has an essential role in host defense responses to microbial infection, its role as an immunomodulator in the vaccine field remains to be defined. In this investigation, we showed that ISG15 exerts an immunomodulatory role in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) vaccines. In mice, after priming with a DNA-ISG15 vector mixed with a DNA expressing HIV-1 gp120 (DNA-gp120), followed by a booster with a modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) vector expressing HIV-1 antigens, both wild-type ISG15-conjugated (ISG15-wt) and mutant unconjugated (ISG15-mut) proteins act as immune adjuvants by increasing the magnitude and quality of HIV-1-specific CD8 T cells, with ISG15-wt providing better immunostimulatory activity than ISG15-mut. The HIV-1 Env-specific CD8 T cell responses showed a predominant T effector memory (TEM) phenotype in all groups. Moreover, the amount of DNA-gp120 used to immunize mice could be reduced 5-fold after mixing with DNA-ISG15 without affecting the potency and the quality of the HIV-1 Env-specific immune responses. Our study clearly highlights the potential use of the IFN-induced ISG15 protein as immune adjuvant to enhance immune responses to HIV antigens, suggesting that this molecule might be exploitable for prophylactic and therapeutic vaccine approaches against pathogens. Our study described the potential role of ISG15 as an immunomodulatory molecule in the optimization of HIV/AIDS vaccine candidates. Using a DNA prime-MVA boost immunization protocol, our results indicated an increase in the potency and the quality of the HIV-1 Env-specific CD8 T cell response. These results highlight the adjuvant potency of ISG15 to elicit improved viral antigen presentation to the immune system, resulting in an enhanced HIV-1 vaccine immune response. The DNA-ISG15 vector could find applicability in the vaccine field in combination with other nucleic acid-based vector vaccines.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/JVI.01155-20DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7944454PMC
December 2020

Optimized Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) E2 Glycoproteins and their Immunogenicity in Combination with MVA-HCV.

Vaccines (Basel) 2020 Aug 5;8(3). Epub 2020 Aug 5.

Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Centro Nacional de Biotecnología (CNB), Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), 28049 Madrid, Spain.

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) represents a major global health challenge and an efficient vaccine is urgently needed. Many HCV vaccination strategies employ recombinant versions of the viral E2 glycoprotein. However, recombinant E2 readily forms disulfide-bonded aggregates that might not be optimally suited for vaccines. Therefore, we have designed an E2 protein in which we strategically changed eight cysteines to alanines (E2.C8A). E2.C8A formed predominantly monomers and virtually no aggregates. Furthermore, E2.C8A also interacted more efficiently with broadly neutralizing antibodies than conventional E2. We used mice to evaluate different prime/boost immunization strategies involving a modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) expressing the nearly full-length genome of HCV (MVA-HCV) in combination with either the E2 aggregates or the E2.C8A monomers. The combined MVA-HCV/E2 aggregates prime/boost strategy markedly enhanced HCV-specific effector memory CD4 T cell responses and antibody levels compared to MVA-HCV/MVA-HCV. Moreover, the aggregated form of E2 induced higher levels of anti-E2 antibodies in vaccinated mice than E2.C8A monomers. These antibodies were cross-reactive and mainly of the IgG1 isotype. Our findings revealed how two E2 viral proteins that differ in their capacity to form aggregates are able to enhance to different extent the HCV-specific cellular and humoral immune responses, either alone or in combination with MVA-HCV. These combined protocols of MVA-HCV/E2 could serve as a basis for the development of a more effective HCV vaccine.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/vaccines8030440DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7563715PMC
August 2020

Tauopathy Analysis in P301S Mouse Model of Alzheimer Disease Immunized With DNA and MVA Poxvirus-Based Vaccines Expressing Human Full-Length 4R2N or 3RC Tau Proteins.

Vaccines (Basel) 2020 Mar 13;8(1). Epub 2020 Mar 13.

Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Centro Nacional de Biotecnología (CNB), Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), 28049 Madrid, Spain.

Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disorder characterized by a progressive memory loss and cognitive decline that has been associated with an accumulation in the brain of intracellular neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs) formed by hyperphosphorylated tau protein, and extracellular senile plaques formed by β-amyloid peptides. Currently, there is no cure for AD and after the failure of anti β-amyloid therapies, active and passive tau immunotherapeutic approaches have been developed in order to prevent, reduce or ideally reverse the disease. Vaccination is one of the most effective approaches to prevent diseases and poxviruses, particularly modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA), are one of the most promising viral vectors used as vaccines against several human diseases. Thus, we present here the generation and characterization of the first MVA vectors expressing human tau genes; the full-length 4R2N tau protein or a 3RC tau fragment containing 3 tubulin-binding motifs and the C-terminal region (termed MVA-Tau4R2N and MVA-Tau3RC, respectively). Both MVA-Tau recombinant viruses efficiently expressed the human tau 4R2N or 3RC proteins in cultured cells, being detected in the cytoplasm of infected cells and co-localized with tubulin. These MVA-Tau vaccines impacted the innate immune responses with a differential recruitment of innate immune cells to the peritoneal cavity of infected mice. However, no tau-specific T cell or humoral immune responses were detected in vaccinated mice. Immunization of transgenic P301S mice, a mouse model for tauopathies, with a DNA-Tau prime/MVA-Tau boost approach showed no significant differences in the hyperphosphorylation of tau, motor capacity and survival rate, when compared to non-vaccinated mice. These findings showed that a well-established and potent protocol of T and B cell activation based on DNA/MVA prime/boost regimens using DNA and MVA vectors expressing tau full-length 4R2N or 3RC proteins is not sufficient to trigger tau-specific T and B cell immune responses and to induce a protective effect against tauopathy in this P301S murine model. In the pursuit of AD vaccines, our results highlight the need for novel optimized tau immunogens and additional modes of presentation of tau protein to the immune system.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/vaccines8010127DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7157204PMC
March 2020

Deletion of Vaccinia Virus A40R Gene Improves the Immunogenicity of the HIV-1 Vaccine Candidate MVA-B.

Vaccines (Basel) 2020 Feb 6;8(1). Epub 2020 Feb 6.

Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Centro Nacional de Biotecnología (CNB), Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), 28049 Madrid, Spain.

Development of a safe and efficacious vaccine against the HIV/AIDS pandemic remains a major scientific goal. We previously described an HIV/AIDS vaccine based on the modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) expressing HIV-1 gp120 and Gag-Pol-Nef (GPN) of clade B (termed MVA-B), which showed moderate immunogenicity in phase I prophylactic and therapeutic clinical trials. Here, to improve the immunogenicity of MVA-B, we generated a novel recombinant virus, MVA-B ΔA40R, by deleting in the MVA-B genome the vaccinia virus (VACV) gene, which encodes a protein with unknown immune function. The innate immune responses triggered by MVA-B ΔA40R in infected human macrophages, in comparison to parental MVA-B, revealed an increase in the mRNA expression levels of interferon (IFN)-β, IFN-induced genes, and chemokines. Compared to priming with DNA-B (a mixture of DNA-gp120 plus DNA-GPN) and boosting with MVA-B, mice immunized with a DNA-B/MVA-B ΔA40R regimen induced higher magnitude of adaptive and memory HIV-1-specific CD4+ and CD8+ T-cell immune responses that were highly polyfunctional, mainly directed against Env. and of an effector memory phenotype, together with enhanced levels of antibodies against HIV-1 gp120. Reintroduction of the A40R gene into the MVA-B ΔA40R genome (virus termed MVA-B ΔA40R-rev) promoted in infected cells high mRNA and protein A40 levels, with A40 protein localized in the cell membrane. MVA-B ΔA40R-rev significantly reduced mRNA levels of IFN-β and of several other innate immune-related genes in infected human macrophages. In immunized mice, MVA-B ΔA40R-rev reduced the magnitude of the HIV-1-specific CD4+ and CD8+ T cell responses compared to MVA-B ΔA40R. These results revealed an immunosuppressive role of the A40 protein, findings relevant for the optimization of poxvirus vectors as vaccines.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/vaccines8010070DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7158668PMC
February 2020

Heterologous Combination of VSV-GP and NYVAC Vectors Expressing HIV-1 Trimeric gp145 Env as Vaccination Strategy to Induce Balanced B and T Cell Immune Responses.

Front Immunol 2019 18;10:2941. Epub 2019 Dec 18.

Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Centro Nacional de Biotecnología, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Madrid, Spain.

The generation of a vaccine against HIV-1 able to induce durable protective immunity continues a major challenge. The modest efficacy (31.2%) of the phase III RV144 clinical trial provided the first demonstration that a prophylactic HIV/AIDS vaccine is achievable but emphasized the need for further refinements of vaccine candidates, formulations, and immunization regimens. Here, we analyzed in mice the immunogenicity profile elicited by different homologous and heterologous prime/boost combinations using the modified rhabdovirus VSV-GP combined with DNA or poxviral NYVAC vectors, all expressing trimeric membrane-bound Env (gp145) of HIV-1 96ZM651 clade C, with or without purified gp140 protein component. In cultured cells infected with recombinant VSV-GP or NYVAC viruses, gp145 epitopes at the plasma membrane were recognized by human HIV-1 broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs). In immunized mice, the heterologous combination of VSV-GP and NYVAC recombinant vectors improved the induction of HIV-1 Env-specific humoral and cellular immune responses compared to homologous prime/boost protocols. Specifically, the combination of VSV-GP in the prime and NYVAC in the boost induced higher HIV-1 Env-specific T cell (CD4/CD8 T cells and T follicular helper -Tfh- cells) immune responses compared to the use of DNA or NYVAC vectors in the prime and VSV-GP in the boost. Such enhanced T cell responses correlated with an enhancement of the Env-specific germinal center (GC) B cell population and with a heavily biased Env-specific response toward the Th1-associated IgG2a and IgG3 subclasses, while the other groups showed a Th2-associated IgG1 bias. In summary, our T and B cell population data demonstrated that VSV-GP-based vectors could be taken into consideration as an optimized immunogenic HIV-1 vaccine candidate component against HIV-1 when used for priming in heterologous combinations with the poxvirus vector NYVAC as a boost.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2019.02941DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6930178PMC
November 2020

The Envelope-Based Fusion Antigen GP120C14K Forming Hexamer-Like Structures Triggers T Cell and Neutralizing Antibody Responses Against HIV-1.

Front Immunol 2019 4;10:2793. Epub 2019 Dec 4.

Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Centro Nacional de Biotecnología, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CNB-CSIC), Madrid, Spain.

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 ( 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.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2019.02793DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6904342PMC
October 2020

An MVA Vector Expressing HIV-1 Envelope under the Control of a Potent Vaccinia Virus Promoter as a Promising Strategy in HIV/AIDS Vaccine Design.

Vaccines (Basel) 2019 Dec 6;7(4). Epub 2019 Dec 6.

Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Centro Nacional de Biotecnología (CNB), Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), 28049 Madrid, Spain.

Highly attenuated poxviral vectors, such as modified vaccinia virus ankara (MVA), are promising vaccine candidates against several infectious diseases. One of the approaches developed to enhance the immunogenicity of poxvirus vectors is increasing the promoter strength and accelerating during infection production levels of heterologous antigens. Here, we have generated and characterized the biology and immunogenicity of an optimized MVA-based vaccine candidate against HIV/AIDS expressing HIV-1 clade B gp120 protein under the control of a novel synthetic late/early optimized (LEO) promoter (LEO160 promoter; with a spacer length of 160 nucleotides), termed MVA-LEO160-gp120. In infected cells, MVA-LEO160-gp120 significantly increased the expression levels of HIV-1 gp120 mRNA and protein, compared to the clinical vaccine MVA-B vector expressing HIV-1 gp120 under the control of the commonly used synthetic early/late promoter. When mice were immunized with a heterologous DNA-prime/MVA-boost protocol, the immunization group DNA-gp120/MVA-LEO160-gp120 induced an enhancement in the magnitude of gp120-specific CD4 and CD8 T-cell responses, compared to DNA-gp120/MVA-B; with most of the responses being mediated by the CD8 T-cell compartment, with a T effector memory phenotype. DNA-gp120/MVA-LEO160-gp120 also elicited a trend to a higher magnitude of gp120-specific CD4 T follicular helper cells, and modest enhanced levels of antibodies against HIV-1 gp120. These findings revealed that this new optimized vaccinia virus promoter could be considered a promising strategy in HIV/AIDS vaccine design, confirming the importance of early expression of heterologous antigen and its impact on the antigen-specific immunogenicity elicited by poxvirus-based vectors.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/vaccines7040208DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6963416PMC
December 2019

Comparison of Safety and Vector-Specific Immune Responses in Healthy and HIV-Infected Populations Vaccinated with MVA-B.

Vaccines (Basel) 2019 Nov 7;7(4). Epub 2019 Nov 7.

Infectious Diseases Department, Hospital Clínic-HIVACAT, IDIBAPS, University of Barcelona, 08036 Barcelona, Spain.

There are few studies comparing the safety and immunogenicity of the same HIV immunogen in healthy volunteers and HIV-infected individuals. We analyzed demographics, adverse events (AEs), and immunogenicity against vaccinia virus in preventive (RISVAC02, = 24 low-risk HIV-negative volunteers) and therapeutic (RISVAC03, = 20 successfully treated chronically HIV-1-infected individuals) vaccine phase-I clinical trials that were performed with the same design and the same immunogen (modified vaccinia virus Ankara-B: MVA-B). Total AEs were significantly higher in HIV-infected patients (mean AEs/patient 6.6 vs. 12.8 ( < 0.01)). Conversely, the number of AEs related to vaccination (AEsRV) was similar between both groups. No grade III or IV AEsRV were observed in either clinical trial. Regarding the immunogenicity, the proportion of anti-vaccinia virus antibody responders was similar in both studies. Conversely, the magnitude of response was significantly higher in HIV-infected patients (median binding antibodies at w8 267 vs. 1600 U/mL ( = 0.002) and at w18 666 vs. 3200 U/mL ( = 0.003)). There was also a trend towards higher anti-vaccinia virus neutralizing activity in HIV-infected individuals (proportion of responders 37% vs. 63% ( = 0.09); median IC50 32 vs. 64 ( = 0.054)). This study confirms the safety of MVA-B independent of HIV serostatus. HIV-infected patients showed higher immune responses against vaccinia virus.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/vaccines7040178DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6963361PMC
November 2019

Safety and immunogenicity of a multivalent HIV vaccine comprising envelope protein with either DNA or NYVAC vectors (HVTN 096): a phase 1b, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.

Lancet HIV 2019 11 7;6(11):e737-e749. Epub 2019 Oct 7.

Vaccine and Infectious Disease Division, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA, USA.

Background: Up to now, immunisation regimens that have been assessed for development of HIV vaccines have included purified envelope (Env) protein among the boosting components of the regimen. We postulated that co-administration of Env protein with either a DNA or NYVAC vector during priming would result in early generation of antibody responses to the Env V1/V2 region, which are important markers for effective protection against infection. We aimed to assess the safety and immunogenicity of a multivalent HIV vaccine including either DNA or NYVAC vectors alone or in combination with Env glycoprotein (gp120) followed by a co-delivered NYVAC and Env protein boost.

Methods: We did a single-centre, double-blind, placebo-controlled phase 1b trial at the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois (Lausanne, Switzerland). We included healthy volunteers aged 18-50 years who were at low risk of HIV infection. We randomly allocated participants using computer-generated random numbers to one of four vaccination schedules or placebo (4:1), and within these schedules participants were allocated either active treatment (T1, T2, T3, and T4) or placebo (C1, C2, C3, and C4). T1 consisted of two doses of NYVAC vector followed by two doses of NYVAC vector and gp120 Env protein; T2 comprised four doses of NYVAC vector and gp120 Env protein; T3 was two doses of DNA vector followed by two doses of NYVAC vector and gp120 Env protein; and T4 was two doses of DNA vector and gp120 Env protein followed by two doses of NYVAC vector and gp120 Env protein. Placebo injections were matched to the corresponding active treatment group. Doses were administered by injection at months 0, 1, 3, and 6. Primary outcomes were safety and immunogenicity of the vaccine schedules. Immune response measures included cross-clade and epitope-specific binding antibodies, neutralising antibodies, and antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity measured 2 weeks after the month 1, 3, and 6 vaccinations. This trial is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT01799954.

Findings: Between Aug 23, 2012, and April 18, 2013, 148 healthy adult volunteers were screened for the trial, of whom 96 participants were enrolled. 20 individuals were allocated to each active treatment group (groups T1-4; n=80) and four were assigned to each placebo group (groups C1-4; n=16). Vaccines containing the NYVAC vector (groups T1 and T2) were associated with more frequent severe reactogenicity and more adverse events than were vaccines containing the DNA vector (groups T3 and T4). The most frequent adverse events judged related to study product were lymphadenopathy (n=9) and hypoaesthesia (n=2). Two participants, one in the placebo group and one in the DNA-primed T3 group, had serious adverse events that were judged unrelated to study product. One participant in the T3 group died from cranial trauma after a motor vehicle accident. Across the active treatment groups, IgG responses 2 weeks after the 6-month dose of vaccine were 74-95%. Early administration of gp120 Env protein (groups T2 and T4) was associated with a substantially earlier and higher area under the curve for gp120 Env binding, production of anti-V1/V2 and neutralising antibodies, and better antibody-response coverage over a period of 18 months, compared with vaccination regimens that delayed administration of gp120 Env protein until the 3-month vaccination (groups T1 and T3).

Interpretation: Co-administration of gp120 Env protein components with DNA or NYVAC vectors during priming led to early and potent induction of Env V1/V2 IgG binding antibody responses. This immunisation approach should be considered for induction of preventive antibodies in future HIV vaccine efficacy trials.

Funding: National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S2352-3018(19)30262-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7156919PMC
November 2019

Immunoproteomic analysis of a Chikungunya poxvirus-based vaccine reveals high HLA class II immunoprevalence.

PLoS Negl Trop Dis 2019 07 5;13(7):e0007547. Epub 2019 Jul 5.

Unidad de Presentación y Regulación Inmunes, Centro Nacional de Microbiología, Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Majadahonda (Madrid), Spain.

Background: Efficient adaptive antiviral cellular and humoral immune responses require previous recognition of viral antigenic peptides bound to human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class I and II molecules, which are exposed on the surface of infected and antigen presenting cells, respectively. The HLA-restricted immune response to Chikungunya virus (CHIKV), a mosquito-borne Alphavirus of the Togaviridae family responsible for severe chronic polyarthralgia and polyarthritis, is largely unknown.

Methodology/principal Findings: In this study, a high-throughput mass spectrometry analysis of complex HLA-bound peptide pools isolated from large amounts of human cells infected with a vaccinia virus (VACV) recombinant expressing CHIKV structural proteins was carried out. Twelve viral ligands from the CHIKV polyprotein naturally presented by different HLA-A, -B, and -C class I, and HLA-DR and -DP class II molecules were identified.

Conclusions/significance: The immunoprevalence of the HLA class II but not the HLA class I-restricted cellular immune response against the CHIKV structural polyprotein was greater than that against the VACV vector itself. In addition, most of the CHIKV HLA class I and II ligands detected by mass spectrometry are not conserved compared to its closely related O'nyong-nyong virus. These findings have clear implications for analysis of both cytotoxic and helper immune responses against CHIKV as well as for the future studies focused in the exacerbated T helper response linked to chronic musculoskeletal disorders in CHIKV patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pntd.0007547DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6636782PMC
July 2019

Induction of Broad and Polyfunctional HIV-1-Specific T Cell Responses by the Multiepitopic Protein TMEP-B Vectored by MVA Virus.

Vaccines (Basel) 2019 Jun 29;7(3). Epub 2019 Jun 29.

Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Centro Nacional de Biotecnología, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CNB-CSIC), Campus de Cantoblanco, 28049 Madrid, Spain.

A human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) vaccine able to induce long-lasting immunity remains a major challenge. We previously designed a T cell multiepitopic immunogen including protective conserved epitopes from HIV-1 Gag, Pol and Nef proteins (TMEP-B), that induced potent HIV-1-specific CD8 T cells when vectored by DNA and combined with the vaccine candidate modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA)-B. Here, we described the vectorization of TMEP-B in MVA (MVA-TMEP) and evaluated the T cell immunogenicity profile elicited in mice when administered in homologous (MVA/MVA) or heterologous (DNA/MVA) prime/boost vector regimens or using homologous or heterologous inserts. The heterologous vector regimen was superior to the homologous protocol in inducing T cell responses. DNA-TMEP-primed animals boosted with MVA-TMEP or MVA-B exhibited the highest magnitudes of HIV-1-specific CD8, CD4 and T follicular helper (Tfh) cells, with MVA-TMEP significantly expanding Gag-specific CD8 T cell responses. In the homologous vector regimen, all groups exhibited similar HIV-1-specific CD8 and CD4 T cell responses, but both MVA-B/MVA-B and MVA-TMEP/MVA-TMEP combinations elicited higher Gag-Pol-Nef (GPN)-specific CD8 T cell responses compared to MVA-TMEP/MVA-B. Our results revealed an enhanced induction of HIV-1-specific T cell responses by TMEP-B when vectored in both DNA and MVA, and supported their use in combined prime/boost strategies for HIV-1 prevention and/or therapy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/vaccines7030057DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6789790PMC
June 2019

Bioluminescence Imaging as a Tool for Poxvirus Biology.

Methods Mol Biol 2019 ;2023:269-285

Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Centro Nacional de Biotecnología, CSIC, Madrid, Spain.

Bioluminescence imaging, with luciferase as a reporter-encoding gene, has been successfully and widely used for studies to follow viral infection in an organism and to measure therapeutic efficacy of antiviral agents in small animal models. Bioluminescence is produced by the reaction of a luciferase enzyme stably inserted into the viral genome with a defined substrate systemically delivered into the animal. The light emitted is captured allowing the detection of viral infection sites and the quantification of viral replication in the context of tissues of a living animal. The goal of this chapter is to provide a technical background for the evaluation of poxvirus infection in cells and animals through bioluminescence imaging technology using luciferase-expressing recombinant poxviruses.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4939-9593-6_17DOI Listing
March 2020

Corrigendum to "A heterologous prime-boosting strategy with replicating Vaccinia virus vectors and plant-produced HIV-1 Gag/dgp41 virus-like particles" [Virology 507 (2017) 242-256].

Virology 2019 Aug 6;534:143. Epub 2019 Jun 6.

Center for Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology, The Biodesign Institute, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, USA; School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, USA. Electronic address:

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.virol.2019.05.018DOI Listing
August 2019

A Novel MVA-Based HIV Vaccine Candidate (MVA-gp145-GPN) Co-Expressing Clade C Membrane-Bound Trimeric gp145 Env and Gag-Induced Virus-Like Particles (VLPs) Triggered Broad and Multifunctional HIV-1-Specific T Cell and Antibody Responses.

Viruses 2019 02 16;11(2). Epub 2019 Feb 16.

Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Centro Nacional de Biotecnología, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CNB-CSIC), Campus de Cantoblanco, 28049 Madrid, Spain.

The development of an effective Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) vaccine that is able to stimulate both the humoral and cellular HIV-1-specific immune responses remains a major priority challenge. In this study, we described the generation and preclinical evaluation of single and double modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA)-based candidates expressing the HIV-1 clade C membrane-bound gp145(ZM96) trimeric protein and/or the Gag(ZM96)-Pol-Nef(CN54) (GPN) polyprotein that was processed to form Gag-induced virus-like particles (VLPs). In vitro characterization of MVA recombinants revealed the stable integration of HIV-1 genes without affecting its replication capacity. In cells that were infected with Env-expressing viruses, the gp145 protein was inserted into the plasma membrane exposing critical epitopes that were recognized by broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs), whereas Gag-induced VLPs were released from cells that were infected with GPN-expressing viruses. VLP particles as well as purified MVA virions contain Env and Gag visualized by immunoelectron microscopy and western-blot of fractions that were obtained after detergent treatments of purified virus particles. In BALB/c mice, homologous MVA-gp145-GPN prime/boost regimen induced broad and polyfunctional Env- and Gag-specific CD4 T cells and antigen-specific T follicular helper (Tfh) and Germinal Center (GC) B cells, which correlated with robust HIV-1-specific humoral responses. Overall, these results support the consideration of MVA-gp145-GPN vector as a potential vaccine candidate against HIV-1.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/v11020160DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6410222PMC
February 2019

Potent Anti-hepatitis C Virus (HCV) T Cell Immune Responses Induced in Mice Vaccinated with DNA-Launched RNA Replicons and Modified Vaccinia Virus Ankara-HCV.

J Virol 2019 04 21;93(7). Epub 2019 Mar 21.

Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Centro Nacional de Biotecnología, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Madrid, Spain

Hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV) affecting 71 million people worldwide with no licensed vaccines that prevent infection. Here, we have generated four novel alphavirus-based DNA-launched self-amplifying RNA replicon (DREP) vaccines expressing either structural core-E1-E2 or nonstructural p7-NS2-NS3 HCV proteins of genotype 1a placed under the control of an alphavirus promoter, with or without an alphaviral translational enhancer (grouped as DREP-HCV or DREP-e-HCV, respectively). DREP vectors are known to induce cross-priming and further stimulation of immune responses through apoptosis, and here we demonstrate that they efficiently trigger apoptosis-related proteins in transfected cells. Immunization of mice with the DREP vaccines as the priming immunization followed by a heterologous boost with a recombinant modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) vector expressing the nearly full-length genome of HCV (MVA-HCV) induced potent and long-lasting HCV-specific CD4 and CD8 T cell immune responses that were significantly stronger than those of a homologous MVA-HCV prime/boost immunization, with the DREP-e-HCV/MVA-HCV combination the most immunogenic regimen. HCV-specific CD4 and CD8 T cell responses were highly polyfunctional, had an effector memory phenotype, and were mainly directed against E1-E2 and NS2-NS3, respectively. Additionally, DREP/MVA-HCV immunization regimens induced higher antibody levels against HCV E2 protein than homologous MVA-HCV immunization. Collectively, these results provided an immunization protocol against HCV by inducing high levels of HCV-specific T cell responses as well as humoral responses. These findings reinforce the combined use of DREP-based vectors and MVA-HCV as promising prophylactic and therapeutic vaccines against HCV. HCV represents a global health problem as more than 71 million people are chronically infected worldwide. Direct-acting antiviral agents can cure HCV infection in most patients, but due to the high cost of these agents and the emergence of resistant mutants, they do not represent a feasible and affordable strategy to eradicate the virus. Therefore, a vaccine is an urgent goal that requires efforts to understand the correlates of protection for HCV clearance. Here, we describe for the first time the generation of novel vaccines against HCV based on alphavirus DNA replicons expressing HCV antigens. We demonstrate that potent T cell immune responses, as well as humoral immune responses, against HCV can be achieved in mice by using a combined heterologous prime/boost immunization protocol consisting of the administration of alphavirus replicon DNA vectors as the priming immunization followed by a boost with a recombinant modified vaccinia virus Ankara vector expressing HCV antigens.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/JVI.00055-19DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6430543PMC
April 2019

Proteomics Analysis Reveals That Structural Proteins of the Virion Core and Involved in Gene Expression Are the Main Source for HLA Class II Ligands in Vaccinia Virus-Infected Cells.

J Proteome Res 2019 03 22;18(3):900-911. Epub 2019 Jan 22.

Department of Biology , Technion-Israel Institute of Technology , 32000 Haifa , Israel.

Protective cellular and humoral immune responses require previous recognition of viral antigenic peptides complexed with human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class II molecules on the surface of the antigen presenting cells. The HLA class II-restricted immune response is important for the control and the clearance of poxvirus infection including vaccinia virus (VACV), the vaccine used in the worldwide eradication of smallpox. In this study, a mass spectrometry analysis was used to identify VACV ligands bound to HLA-DR and -DP class II molecules present on the surface of VACV-infected cells. Twenty-six naturally processed viral ligands among the tens of thousands of cell peptides bound to HLA class II proteins were identified. These viral ligands arose from 19 parental VACV proteins: A4, A5, A18, A35, A38, B5, B13, D1, D5, D7, D12, D13, E3, E8, H5, I2, I3, J2, and K2. The majority of these VACV proteins yielded one HLA ligand and were generated mainly, but not exclusively, by the classical HLA class II antigen processing pathway. Medium-sized and abundant proteins from the virion core and/or involved in the viral gene expression were the major source of VACV ligands bound to HLA-DR and -DP class II molecules. These findings will help to understand the effectiveness of current poxvirus-based vaccines and will be important in the design of new ones.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acs.jproteome.8b00595DOI Listing
March 2019

A Vaccine Based on a Modified Vaccinia Virus Ankara Vector Expressing Zika Virus Structural Proteins Controls Zika Virus Replication in Mice.

Sci Rep 2018 11 26;8(1):17385. Epub 2018 Nov 26.

Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Centro Nacional de Biotecnología (CNB), Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), Madrid, Spain.

Zika virus (ZIKV) is a re-emerging mosquito-borne flavivirus that affects humans and can cause severe neurological complications, including Guillain-Barré syndrome and microcephaly. Since 2007 there have been three large outbreaks; the last and larger spread in the Americas in 2015. Actually, ZIKV is circulating in the Americas, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands, and represents a potential pandemic threat. Given the rapid ZIKV dissemination and the severe neurological and teratogenic sequelae associated with ZIKV infection, the development of a safe and efficacious vaccine is critical. In this study, we have developed and characterized the immunogenicity and efficacy of a novel ZIKV vaccine based on the highly attenuated poxvirus vector modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) expressing the ZIKV prM and E structural genes (termed MVA-ZIKV). MVA-ZIKV expressed efficiently the ZIKV structural proteins, assembled in virus-like particles (VLPs) and was genetically stable upon nine passages in cell culture. Immunization of mice with MVA-ZIKV elicited antibodies that were able to neutralize ZIKV and induced potent and polyfunctional ZIKV-specific CD8 T cell responses that were mainly of an effector memory phenotype. Moreover, a single dose of MVA-ZIKV reduced significantly the viremia in susceptible immunocompromised mice challenged with live ZIKV. These findings support the use of MVA-ZIKV as a potential vaccine against ZIKV.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-35724-6DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6255889PMC
November 2018

Priming with a Potent HIV-1 DNA Vaccine Frames the Quality of Immune Responses prior to a Poxvirus and Protein Boost.

J Virol 2019 02 17;93(3). Epub 2019 Jan 17.

Institute of Medical Microbiology and Hygiene, University of Regensburg, Regensburg, Germany

The use of heterologous immunization regimens and improved vector systems has led to increases in immunogenicity of HIV-1 vaccine candidates in nonhuman primates. In order to resolve interrelations between different delivery modalities, three different poxvirus boost regimens were compared. Three groups of rhesus macaques were each primed with the same DNA vaccine encoding Gag, Pol, Nef, and gp140. The groups were then boosted with either the vaccinia virus strain NYVAC or a variant with improved replication competence in human cells, termed NYVAC-KC. The latter was administered either by scarification or intramuscularly. Finally, macaques were boosted with adjuvanted gp120 protein to enhance humoral responses. The regimen elicited very potent CD4 and CD8 T cell responses in a well-balanced manner, peaking 2 weeks after the boost. T cells were broadly reactive and polyfunctional. All animals exhibited antigen-specific humoral responses already after the poxvirus boost, which further increased following protein administration. Polyclonal reactivity of IgG antibodies was highest against HIV-1 clade C Env proteins, with considerable cross-reactivity to other clades. Substantial effector functional activities (antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity and antibody-dependent cell-mediated virus inhibition) were observed in serum obtained after the last protein boost. Notably, major differences between the groups were absent, indicating that the potent priming induced by the DNA vaccine initially framed the immune responses in such a way that the subsequent boosts with NYVAC and protein led only to an increase in the response magnitudes without skewing the quality. This study highlights the importance of selecting the best combination of vector systems in heterologous prime-boost vaccination regimens. The evaluation of HIV vaccine efficacy trials indicates that protection would most likely correlate with a polyfunctional immune response involving several effector functions from all arms of the immune system. Heterologous prime-boost regimens have been shown to elicit vigorous T cell and antibody responses in nonhuman primates that, however, qualitatively and quantitatively differ depending on the respective vector systems used. The present study evaluated a DNA prime and poxvirus and protein boost regimen and compared how two poxvirus vectors with various degrees of replication capacity and two different delivery modalities-conventional intramuscular delivery and percutaneous delivery by scarification-impact several immune effectors. It was found that despite the different poxvirus boosts, the overall immune responses in the three groups were similar, suggesting the potent DNA priming as the major determining factor of immune responses. These findings emphasize the importance of selecting optimal priming agents in heterologous prime-boost vaccination settings.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/JVI.01529-18DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6340047PMC
February 2019

Replication-Competent NYVAC-KC Yields Improved Immunogenicity to HIV-1 Antigens in Rhesus Macaques Compared to Nonreplicating NYVAC.

J Virol 2019 02 17;93(3). Epub 2019 Jan 17.

Biodesign Institute, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, USA

As part of the continuing effort to develop an effective HIV vaccine, we generated a poxviral vaccine vector (previously described) designed to improve on the results of the RV144 phase III clinical trial. The construct, NYVAC-KC, is a replication-competent, attenuated recombinant of the vaccinia virus strain NYVAC. NYVAC is a vector that has been used in many previous clinical studies but is replication deficient. Here, we report a side-by-side comparison of replication-restricted NYVAC and replication-competent NYVAC-KC in a nonhuman primate study, which utilized a prime-boost regimen similar to that of RV144. NYVAC-C and NYVAC-C-KC express the HIV-1 antigens gp140, and Gag/Gag-Pol-Nef-derived virus-like particles (VLPs) from clade C and were used as the prime, with recombinant virus plus envelope protein used as the boost. In nearly every T and B cell immune assay against HIV-1, including neutralization and antibody binding, NYVAC-C-KC induced a greater immune response than NYVAC-C, indicating that replication competence in a poxvirus may improve upon the modestly successful regimen used in the RV144 clinical trial. Though the RV144 phase III clinical trial showed promise that an effective vaccine against HIV-1 is possible, a successful vaccine will require improvement over the vaccine candidate (ALVAC) used in the RV144 study. With that goal in mind, we have tested in nonhuman primates an attenuated but replication-competent vector, NYVAC-KC, in direct comparison to its parental vector, NYVAC, which is replication restricted in human cells, similar to the ALVAC vector used in RV144. We have utilized a prime-boost regimen for administration of the vaccine candidate that is similar to the one used in the RV144 study. The results of this study indicate that a replication-competent poxvirus vector may improve upon the effectiveness of the RV144 clinical trial vaccine candidate.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/JVI.01513-18DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6340019PMC
February 2019

DNA-launched RNA replicon vaccines induce potent anti-Ebolavirus immune responses that can be further improved by a recombinant MVA boost.

Sci Rep 2018 08 20;8(1):12459. Epub 2018 Aug 20.

Department of Microbiology, Tumor and Cell Biology, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.

There are currently no licensed therapeutic treatment or preventive vaccines against Ebolavirus disease, and the 2013-2016 West African outbreak of Ebolavirus disease spread rapidly and resulted in almost 30,000 cases and more than 11,000 deaths. However, the devastating outbreak has spurred the development of novel Ebolavirus vaccines. Here, we demonstrate that alphavirus-based DNA-launched self-replicating RNA replicon vaccines (DREP) encoding either the glycoprotein (GP) gene or co-expressing the GP and VP40 genes of Sudan or Zaire Ebolavirus are immunogenic in mice inducing both binding and neutralizing antibodies as well as CD8 T cell responses. In addition, antibodies were cross-reactive against another Ebolavirus, although the specificity was higher for the vaccination antigen. DREP vaccines were more immunogenic than recombinant MVA vaccines expressing the same Ebolavirus antigens. However, a DREP prime followed by an MVA boost immunization regimen improved vaccine immunogenicity as compared to DREP and MVA homologous prime-boost immunizations. Moreover, we show that a bivalent approach targeting both Sudan and Zaire Ebolavirus can be employed without significant loss of immunity. This opens for further investigation of a pan-Ebolavirus or even a pan-filovirus vaccine.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-31003-6DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6102224PMC
August 2018

Potent HIV-1-Specific CD8 T Cell Responses Induced in Mice after Priming with a Multiepitopic DNA-TMEP and Boosting with the HIV Vaccine MVA-B.

Viruses 2018 08 13;10(8). Epub 2018 Aug 13.

Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Centro Nacional de Biotecnología, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CNB-CSIC), Campus de Cantoblanco, 28049 Madrid, Spain.

An effective vaccine against Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) still remains the best solution to provide a sustainable control and/or eradication of the virus. We have previously generated the HIV-1 vaccine modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA)-B, which exhibited good immunogenicity profile in phase I prophylactic and therapeutic clinical trials, but was unable to prevent viral rebound after antiretroviral (ART) removal. To potentiate the immunogenicity of MVA-B, here we described the design and immune responses elicited in mice by a new T cell multi-epitopic B (TMEP-B) immunogen, vectored by DNA, when administered in homologous or heterologous prime/boost regimens in combination with MVA-B. The TMEP-B protein contained conserved regions from Gag, Pol, and Nef proteins including multiple CD4 and CD8 T cell epitopes functionally associated with HIV control. Heterologous DNA-TMEP/MVA-B regimen induced higher HIV-1-specific CD8 T cell responses with broader epitope recognition and higher polyfunctional profile than the homologous DNA-TMEP/DNA-TMEP or the heterologous DNA-GPN/MVA-B combinations. Moreover, higher HIV-1-specific CD4 and Tfh immune responses were also detected using this regimen. After MVA-B boost, the magnitude of the anti-VACV CD8 T cell response was significantly compromised in DNA-TMEP-primed animals. Our results revealed the immunological potential of DNA-TMEP prime/MVA-B boost regimen and supported the application of these combined vectors in HIV-1 prevention and/or therapy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/v10080424DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6116222PMC
August 2018

Removal of the C6 Vaccinia Virus Interferon-β Inhibitor in the Hepatitis C Vaccine Candidate MVA-HCV Elicited in Mice High Immunogenicity in Spite of Reduced Host Gene Expression.

Viruses 2018 08 8;10(8). Epub 2018 Aug 8.

Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Centro Nacional de Biotecnología (CNB), Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), 28049 Madrid, Spain.

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) represents a major global health problem for which a vaccine is not available. Modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA)-HCV is a unique HCV vaccine candidate based in the modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) vector expressing the nearly full-length genome of HCV genotype 1a that elicits CD8⁺ T-cell responses in mice. With the aim to improve the immune response of MVA-HCV and because of the importance of interferon (IFN) in HCV infection, we deleted in MVA-HCV the vaccinia virus (VACV) gene, encoding an inhibitor of IFN-β that prevents activation of the interferon regulatory factors 3 and 7 (IRF3 and IRF7). The resulting vaccine candidate (MVA-HCV ΔC6L) expresses all HCV antigens and deletion of had no effect on viral growth in permissive chicken cells. In human monocyte-derived dendritic cells, infection with MVA-HCV ΔC6L triggered severe down-regulation of IFN-β, IFN-β-induced genes, and cytokines in a manner similar to MVA-HCV, as defined by real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and microarray analysis. In infected mice, both vectors had a similar profile of recruited immune cells and induced comparable levels of adaptive and memory HCV-specific CD8⁺ T-cells, mainly against p7 + NS2 and NS3 HCV proteins, with a T cell effector memory (TEM) phenotype. Furthermore, antibodies against E2 were also induced. Overall, our findings showed that while these vectors had a profound inhibitory effect on gene expression of the host, they strongly elicited CD8⁺ T cell and humoral responses against HCV antigens and to the virus vector. These observations add support to the consideration of these vectors as potential vaccine candidates against HCV.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/v10080414DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6116028PMC
August 2018
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