Multi-subtype gp160 DNA immunization induces broadly neutralizing anti-HIV antibodies

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A highly desirable feature for an human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) vaccine is the ability to induce broadly reactive anti-envelope antibodies that can neutralize primary HIV-1 isolates. Two immunizations with an HIV-1 envelope-encoding plasmid together with recombinant granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (rGM-CSF) resulted in high antibody titers in mice. The antibody induction was further enhanced after immunization with genes encoding HIV-1 envelopes originating from subtypes A, B and C. The sera from these animals were able to neutralize A, B and C viral isolates, whereas the sera from animals immunized solely with subtype B DNA neutralized only subtype B virus. The combined DNA vaccine gave serum antibodies with broad recognition of HIV-1 envelope epitopes as determined by peptide mapping. Cell-mediated immunity was not compromised by the increased humoral immunity. This demonstrates the ability of multiple envelope genes to induce the desired antibody response against several subtypes. Moreover, it documents the ability of rGM-CSF to enhance the potency of such a vaccine when given simultaneously. The strategy may be useful for making an HIV vaccine more potent and broadly effective against strains of different clades.

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