DNA immunization of mice against SIVmac239 gag and env using Rev- independent expression plasmids

Stefano Indraccolo, Fiorella Feroli, Sonia Minuzzo, Marta Mion, Antonio Rosato, Rita Zamarchi, Fausto Titti, Paola Verani, Alberto Amadori, Luigi Chieco-Bianchi

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Simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) structural gene expression, including gag and env, strictly depends on the interaction of the viral posttranscriptional regulator Rev with its target RNA, the Rev-responsive element (RRE). A small RNA element, termed the constitutive transport element (CTE), located in the 3' portion of simian retrovirus 1 (SRV-1) mRNA, can efficiently substitute for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) Rev-RRE interaction, and thus render HIV expression and replication Rev independent. We tested the ability of the SRV-1 CTE to drive the expression of SIVmac239 env and gag from subgenomic constructs designed for possible use in vaccine trials. In vitro expression studies showed that when the SRV-1 sequence is coupled to the SIV gag and env mRNAs, it functions in an orientation- dependent fashion, and leads to strong expression of SIV Gag and Env in human and monkey cell lines; levels of CTE-mediated protein expression were similar to those obtained with a functional Rev-RRE system. On the other hand, in murine fibroblast-like cells, SIV Gag and Env were expressed from constructs at relatively high levels even in the absence of Rev-RRE; nevertheless, their expression was increased by the presence of the SRV-1 CTE. As reported previously for HIV, the murine cell lines appeared to be defective for Rev- RRE activity, and required overexpression of Rev to induce a Rev response. Intramuscular injection of the gag-CTE and env-CTE constructs in BALB/c mice resulted in the expression of the corresponding mRNAs, and the production of anti-Gag and anti-Env antibodies, thus suggesting that these vectors might be used for genetic immunization approaches.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-90
Number of pages8
JournalAIDS Research and Human Retroviruses
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Virology


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