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Display of Domain III from Dengue 2 Envelope Protein on HBsAg Virus-like Particles Vectored by Measles Virus

Description

Dengue virus infects millions of people every year. Yet there is still no vaccine available to prevent it. Here we use a neutralizing epitope determinant on the dengue envelope (E) protein as an immunogen to be vectored by a measles

Dengue virus infects millions of people every year. Yet there is still no vaccine available to prevent it. Here we use a neutralizing epitope determinant on the dengue envelope (E) protein as an immunogen to be vectored by a measles virus (MV) vaccine. However the domain III (DIII) of the dengue 2 E protein is too small to be immunogenic by itself. In order for it to be displayed on a larger particle, it was inserted into the amino terminus of small hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg, S) coding sequence. To generate the recombinant MV vector and verify the efficiency of this concept, a reverse genetics system was used where the MV vectors express one or two additional transcription units to direct the assembly of hybrid HBsAg particles. Two types of recombinant measles virus were produced: pB(+)MVvac2(DIII-S,S)P and pB(+)MVvac2(DIII-S)N. Virus recovered from pB(+)MVvac2(DIII-S,S)P was viable. An ELISA assay was performed to demonstrate the expression and secretion of HBsAg. Supernatant from MVvac2(DIII-S,S)P infected cells confirmed that hybrid HBsAg-domain III particles with a density similar to traditional HBsAg particles were released. Characteristics of the subviral particle have been analyzed for the successful incorporation of domain III. The replication fitness of the recombinant MV was evaluated using multi-step growth kinetics and showed reduced replication fitness when compared to the parental strain MVvac2. This demonstrates that viral replication is hindered by the addition of the two inserts into MV genome. Further analysis of MVvac2(DIII-S)N is needed to justify immune response studies in a small animal model using both of the generated recombinant vectors.

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Date Created
2014-05

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Expression of dengue virus envelope glycoproteins using a measles vaccine vector

Description

ABSTRACT In terms of prevalence, human suffering and costs dengue infections are the most important arthropod-borne viral disease worldwide. Dengue virus (DENV) is a mosquito-borne flavivirus and the etiological agent of dengue fever and dengue hemorrhagic fever. Thus, development of

ABSTRACT In terms of prevalence, human suffering and costs dengue infections are the most important arthropod-borne viral disease worldwide. Dengue virus (DENV) is a mosquito-borne flavivirus and the etiological agent of dengue fever and dengue hemorrhagic fever. Thus, development of a safe and efficient vaccine constitutes an urgent necessity. Besides the traditional strategies aim at generating immunization options, the usage of viral vectors to deliver antigenic stimulus in order to elicit protection are particularly attractive for the endeavor of a dengue vaccine. The viral vector (MVvac2) is genetically equivalent to the currently used measles vaccine strain Moraten, which adds practicality to my approach. The goal of the present study was to generate a recombinant measles virus expressing structural antigens from two strains of DENV (DENV2 and DENV4) The recombinant vectors replication profile was comparable to that of the parental strain and expresses either membrane bound or soluble forms of DENV2 and DENV4 E glycoproteins. I discuss future experiments in order to demonstrate its immunogenicity in our measles-susceptible mouse model.

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Date Created
2013

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Biological and immunological characterization of plant-produced HIV-1 Gag/dgp41 virus-like particles

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Anti-retroviral drugs and AIDS prevention programs have helped to decrease the rate of new HIV-1 infections in some communities, however, a prophylactic vaccine is still needed to control the epidemic world-wide. Despite over two decades of research, a vaccine against

Anti-retroviral drugs and AIDS prevention programs have helped to decrease the rate of new HIV-1 infections in some communities, however, a prophylactic vaccine is still needed to control the epidemic world-wide. Despite over two decades of research, a vaccine against HIV-1 remains elusive, although recent clinical trials have shown promising results. Recent successes have focused on highly conserved, mucosally-targeted antigens within HIV-1 such as the membrane proximal external region (MPER) of the envelope protein, gp41. MPER has been shown to play critical roles in the viral mucosal transmission, though this peptide is not immunogenic on its own. Gag is a structural protein configuring the enveloped virus particles, and has been suggested to constitute a target of the cellular immunity potentially controlling the viral load. It was hypothesized that HIV-1 enveloped virus-like particles (VLPs) consisting of Gag and a deconstructed form of gp41 comprising the MPER, transmembrane, and cytoplasmic domains (dgp41) could be expressed in plants. Plant-optimized HIV-1 genes were constructed and expressed in Nicotiana benthamiana by stable transformation, or transiently using a tobacco mosaic virus-based expression system or a combination of both. Results of biophysical, biochemical and electron microscopy characterization demonstrated that plant cells could support not only the formation of HIV-1 Gag VLPs, but also the accumulation of VLPs that incorporated dgp41. These particles were purified and utilized in mice immunization experiments. Prime-boost strategies combining systemic and mucosal priming with systemic boosting using two different vaccine candidates (VLPs and CTB-MPR - a fusion of MPER and the B-subunit of cholera toxin) were administered to BALB/c mice. Serum antibody responses against both the Gag and gp41 antigens could be elicited in mice systemically primed with VLPs and these responses could be recalled following systemic boosting with VLPs. In addition, mucosal priming with VLPs allowed for a robust boosting response against Gag and gp41 when boosted with either candidate. Functional assays of these antibodies are in progress to test the antibodies' effectiveness in neutralizing and preventing mucosal transmission of HIV-1. This immunogenicity of plant-based Gag/dgp41 VLPs represents an important milestone on the road towards a broadly-efficacious and inexpensive subunit vaccine against HIV-1.

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Date Created
2011

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Lessons from vaccinia virus post-exposure prophylaxis: insights into control of diseases and epidemics

Description

The concept of vaccination dates back further than Edward Jenner's first vaccine using cowpox pustules to confer immunity against smallpox in 1796. Nevertheless, it was Jenner's success that gave vaccines their name and made vaccinia virus (VACV) of particular interest.

The concept of vaccination dates back further than Edward Jenner's first vaccine using cowpox pustules to confer immunity against smallpox in 1796. Nevertheless, it was Jenner's success that gave vaccines their name and made vaccinia virus (VACV) of particular interest. More than 200 years later there is still the need to understand vaccination from vaccine design to prediction of vaccine efficacy using mathematical models. Post-exposure vaccination with VACV has been suggested to be effective if administered within four days of smallpox exposure although this has not been definitively studied in humans. The first and second chapters analyze post-exposure prophylaxis of VACV in an animal model using v50ΔB13RMγ, a recombinant VACV expressing murine interferon gamma (IFN-γ) also known as type II IFN. While untreated animals infected with wild type VACV die by 10 days post-infection (dpi), animals treated with v50ΔB13RMγ 1 dpi had decreased morbidity and 100% survival. Despite these differences, the viral load was similar in both groups suggesting that v50ΔB13RMγ acts as an immunoregulator rather than as an antiviral. One of the main characteristics of VACV is its resistance to type I IFN, an effect primarily mediated by the E3L protein, which has a Z-DNA binding domain and a double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) binding domain. In the third chapter a VACV that independently expresses both domains of E3L was engineered and compared to wild type in cells in culture. The dual expression virus was unable to replicate in the JC murine cell line where both domains are needed together for replication. Moreover, phosphorylation of the dsRNA dependent protein kinase (PKR) was observed at late times post-infection which indicates that both domains need to be linked together in order to block the IFN response. Because smallpox has already been eradicated, the utility of mathematical modeling as a tool for predicting disease spread and vaccine efficacy was explored in the last chapter using dengue as a disease model. Current modeling approaches were reviewed and the 2000-2001 dengue outbreak in a Peruvian region was analyzed. This last section highlights the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration and how it benefits research on infectious diseases.

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Date Created
2011

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Optimization of a viral system to produce vaccines and other biopharmaceuticals in plants

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Plants are a promising upcoming platform for production of vaccine components and other desirable pharmaceutical proteins that can only, at present, be made in living systems. The unique soil microbe Agrobacterium tumefaciens can transfer DNA to plants very efficiently, essentially

Plants are a promising upcoming platform for production of vaccine components and other desirable pharmaceutical proteins that can only, at present, be made in living systems. The unique soil microbe Agrobacterium tumefaciens can transfer DNA to plants very efficiently, essentially turning plants into factories capable of producing virtually any gene. While genetically modified bacteria have historically been used for producing useful biopharmaceuticals like human insulin, plants can assemble much more complicated proteins, like human antibodies, that bacterial systems cannot. As plants do not harbor human pathogens, they are also safer alternatives than animal cell cultures. Additionally, plants can be grown very cheaply, in massive quantities.

In my research, I have studied the genetic mechanisms that underlie gene expression, in order to improve plant-based biopharmaceutical production. To do this, inspiration was drawn from naturally-occurring gene regulatory mechanisms, especially those from plant viruses, which have evolved mechanisms to co-opt the plant cellular machinery to produce high levels of viral proteins. By testing, modifying, and combining genetic elements from diverse sources, an optimized expression system has been developed that allows very rapid production of vaccine components, monoclonal antibodies, and other biopharmaceuticals. To improve target gene expression while maintaining the health and function of the plants, I identified, studied, and modified 5’ untranslated regions, combined gene terminators, and a nuclear matrix attachment region. The replication mechanisms of a plant geminivirus were also studied, which lead to additional strategies to produce more toxic biopharmaceutical proteins. Finally, the mechanisms employed by a geminivirus to spread between cells were investigated. It was demonstrated that these movement mechanisms can be functionally transplanted into a separate genus of geminivirus, allowing modified virus-based gene expression vectors to be spread between neighboring plant cells. Additionally, my work helps shed light on the basic genetic mechanisms employed by all living organisms to control gene expression.

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Date Created
2017