Recombinant vaccinia virus (VV) vectors that express the envelope (Env) protein of the human immunodeficiency virus-type 1 (HIV-1) have been previously shown to elicit HIV-specific cytotoxic T-lymphocyte (CTL) and weak antibody responses in non-human primate studies and clinical trials. In first clinical trials, single Env proteins were presented to the immune system by VV recombinants and other vectors, but individuals were not protected against later exposures to heterologous HIV. It is likely that the generation of protective immune responses against diverse HIV will require that vaccines encompass proteins from not just one, but multiple distinct HIV isolates. Here is described the simple construction of numerous new VV, each expressing a unique, truncated, Env protein (VVenv). Mouse experiments were performed to evaluate the ability of these VVenv to elicit immune responses. HIV-1-specific antibodies appeared within one month following one intraperitoneal inoculation of mice with single or mixed VVenv, reaching plateau levels by 4 months. The magnitude of antibody production was poor at the dose of 105p.f.u. VVenv per animal, but improved with increasing doses of VVenv up to 107p.f.u. per animal. The subcutaneous route of VV immunization, previously proven safe in human trials, was also effective for administering VVenv. These results highlight the strengths of recombinant VV constructs as vehicles for the presentation of multiple HIV-1-Env proteins to the naive immune system.
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