Elicitation of neutralizing antibodies with DNA vaccines expressing soluble stabilized human immunodeficiency virus type 1 envelope glycoprotein trimers conjugated to C3d

J Virol. 2004 May;78(9):4710-9. doi: 10.1128/jvi.78.9.4710-4719.2004.


DNA vaccines expressing the envelope (Env) of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) have been relatively ineffective at generating high-titer, long-lasting immune responses. Oligomeric or trimeric (gp140) forms of Env that more closely mimic the native proteins on the virion are often more effective immunogens than monomeric (gp120) envelopes. In this study, several forms of Env constructed from the HIV-1 isolate YU-2 (HIV-1(YU-2)) were tested for their immunogenic potential: a trimeric form of uncleaved (-) Env stabilized with a synthetic trimer motif isolated from the fibritin (FT) protein of the T4 bacteriophage, sgp140(YU-2)(-/FT), was compared to sgp140(YU-2)(-) without a synthetic trimerization domain, as well as to monomeric gp120(YU-2). DNA plasmids were constructed to express Env alone or fused to various copies of murine C3d (mC3d). BALB/c mice were vaccinated (day 1 and week 4) with DNA expressing a codon-optimized envelope gene insert, alone or fused to mC3d. Mice were subsequently boosted (week 8) with the DNA or recombinant Env protein. All mice had high anti-Env antibody titers regardless of the use of mC3d. Sera from mice vaccinated with DNA expressing non-C3d-fused trimers elicited neutralizing antibodies against homologous HIV-1(YU-2) virus infection in vitro. In contrast, sera from mice inoculated with DNA expressing Env-C3d protein trimers elicited antibody that neutralized both homologous HIV-1(YU-2) and heterologous HIV-1(ADA), albeit at low titers. Therefore, DNA vaccines expressing trimeric envelopes coupled to mC3d, expressed in vivo from codon-optimized sequences, elicit low titers of neutralizing antibodies against primary isolates of HIV-1.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • AIDS Vaccines / immunology*
  • Animals
  • Complement C3d / genetics
  • Complement C3d / immunology*
  • Complement C3d / metabolism
  • Gene Products, env / genetics
  • Gene Products, env / immunology*
  • Gene Products, env / metabolism
  • HIV Antibodies / blood*
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control
  • HIV-1 / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunization
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Neutralization Tests
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / immunology*
  • Vaccines, DNA / immunology*
  • env Gene Products, Human Immunodeficiency Virus


  • AIDS Vaccines
  • Gene Products, env
  • HIV Antibodies
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • Vaccines, DNA
  • env Gene Products, Human Immunodeficiency Virus
  • gp140 envelope protein, Human immunodeficiency virus 1
  • Complement C3d