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The hybrid cytomegalovirus enhancer/chicken beta-actin promoter along with woodchuck hepatitis virus posttranscriptional regulatory element enhances the protective efficacy of DNA vaccines

, : The hybrid cytomegalovirus enhancer/chicken beta-actin promoter along with woodchuck hepatitis virus posttranscriptional regulatory element enhances the protective efficacy of DNA vaccines. Journal of Immunology 173(1): 550-558

DNA vaccines represent a novel and powerful alternative to conventional vaccine approaches. They are extremely stable and can be produced en masse at low cost; more importantly, DNA vaccines against emerging pathogens or bioterrorism threats can be quickly constructed based solely upon the pathogen's genetic code. The main drawback of DNA vaccines is that they often induce lower immune responses than traditional vaccines, particularly in nonrodent species. Thus, improving the efficacy of DNA vaccines is a critical issue in vaccine development. In this study we have enhanced the efficacy of DNA vaccines by adopting strategies that increase gene expression. We generated influenza-hemagglutinin (HA)-encoding DNA vaccines that contain the hybrid CMV enhancer/chicken beta-actin (CAG) promoter and/or the mRNA-stabilizing post-transcriptional regulatory element from the woodchuck hepatitis virus (WPRE). Mice were immunized with these DNA vaccines, and the influenza-HA-specific cellular and humoral immune responses were compared with a conventional, HA-encoding DNA vaccine whose gene expression was driven by the CMV immediate-early promoter (pCMV-HA). CAG promoter-driven DNA vaccines elicited significantly higher Immoral and cellular immune responses compared with the pCMV-HA vaccine. DNA vaccines consisting of both CAG and WPRE elements (pCAG-HA-WPRE) induced the highest level of protective immunity, such that immunization with 10-fold lower DNA doses prevented death in 100% of the mice upon lethal viral challenge, whereas all mice immunized with the conventional pCMV-HA vaccine succumbed to influenza infection.


PMID: 15210816

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