The generation of strong, virus-neutralizing antibody responses to the HIV-1 envelope spike (Env) is a major goal in HIV-1 vaccine research. To try to enhance the Env-specific response, we displayed oligomeric gp140 on a virus-like scaffold provided by the lambda phage capsid. To do this, an in vitro complementation system was used to " decorate" phage particles with glycosylated, mammalian cell-derived envelope oligomers. We compared the immune response to lambda phage particles displaying HIV-1 Env to that elicited by soluble oligomeric gp140 in rabbits. Env-binding antibody titers were higher in animals that received oligomeric gp140 as compared to Env decorated phage particles, as were virus neutralizing antibody responses. The Env decorated phage particles were, however, able to efficiently boost a protein-primed humoral response to levels equivalent to those elicited by high-dose adjuvanted Env oligomers. These results show that display of HIV-1 envelope spikes on the bacteriophage lambda capsid does not result in an improved, Env-specific humoral immune response. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.
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