Spatial And Temporal Expression of Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 Amplicon-Encoded Genes: Implications for Their Use As Immunization Vectors
There is great interest in developing new immunization vectors. Helper virus-free herpes amplicons, plasmid-based vectors that encode no viral gene products and have an extremely large coding capacity, are attractive viral vaccine candidates for expressing recombinant proteins in vivo for immunization. Earlier studies in mice, using amplicons encoding the gp120 protein of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), resulted in strikingly robust cellular immune responses as measured by cytotoxicity and interferon gamma enzyme-linked immunospot assays. To begin to understand how such vectors function in vivo to generate an immune response, we used amplicons encoding reporter constructs including green fluorescent protein (GFP) and luciferase to examine the duration of expression after administration to mice. Luciferase expression, measured with the IVIS system from Xenogen/Caliper Life Sciences (Hopkinton, MA) and by enzymatic assays of tissue extracts, revealed that expression after injection of the HSVluc amplicons peaked earlier than 24 hr after injection into mice. HSVegfp injection resulted in peak accumulation of GFP 24 hr after administration in vivo. Thus, both reporter genes revealed a rather rapid and robust expression pattern of short duration. The short period of expression appears in part to be due to gene silencing. Examination of the cells transduced by amplicons encoding GFP and human B7.1 suggested that the amplicons transduce a variety of cells, including professional antigen-presenting cells. From this and previous work, we conclude that amplicons may engender a potent immune response by directly transducing dendritic cells as well as by cross-priming of antigen produced by other transduced host cells.
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