Next generation DNA vaccines for HIV-1

J. D. Boyer, Michael Chattergoon, Karuppiah Muthumani, Sagar Kudchodkar, Joseph Kim, Mark Bagarazzi, George Pavlakis, Rafick Sekaly, David B. Weiner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


We studied the effects of first generation HIV-1 plasmid vaccines in 167 individuals. The vaccines were very well tolerated and induced helper T cell responses in most vaccine recipients. However, the CTL responses were below a 20% response rate. Improvement in vaccine potency is an important goal of this technology and a central focus of our laboratory. To improve on these response rates, we used RNA optimized constructs pGag and pEnv). These vaccines express 20-100 fold better than first generation vectors. However, our studies support that additional enhancements are needed to further boost the immune response. We report that we can significantly enhance the induced CD8 effector cell response by including engineered B7 costimulatory molecules. We observed that B7.2 was more effective at driving cellular immune responses than B7.1 as a plasmid vaccine. We developed gene swaps and deletions between these two molecules. This manipulation resulted in a dramatically enhanced cellular immune response as measured by CTL, or ICC or Elispot. We have also explored the use of cytokines as plasmid vaccine adjuvants. We observed that IL-12 and IL-15 were effective as plasmid vaccine adjuvants. Interestingly, IL-15 appeared to allow T cell expansion in the absence of significant T cell help. Improvement of the immune response induced by plasmid vaccines can be engineered in multiple ways. Our studies show that both costimulation as well as cytokine signals can be harnessed for more potent vaccine development. These results have important implications for the design of vaccines for prophylaxis and therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)137-142
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Liposome Research
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Cytokines
  • DNA vaccine
  • HIV-1
  • Immune responses

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmaceutical Science


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