The desire to induce HIV-1-specific responses soon after birth to prevent breast milk transmission of HIV-1 led us to propose a vaccine regimen which primes HIV-1-specific T cells using a recombinant Mycobacterium bovis bacillus Calmette-Guérin (rBCG) vaccine. Because attenuated live bacterial vaccines are typically not sufficiently immunogenic as stand-alone vaccines, rBCG-primed T cells will likely require boost immunization(s). Here, we compared modified Danish (AERAS-401) and Pasteur lysine auxotroph (222) strains of BCG expressing the immunogen HIVA for their potency to prime HIV-1-specific responses in adult BALB/c mice and examined four heterologous boosting HIVA vaccines for their immunogenic synergy. We found that both BCG.HIVA(401) and BCG.HIVA(222) primed HIV-1-specific CD8(+) T-cell-mediated responses. The strongest boosts were delivered by human adenovirus-vectored HAdV5.HIVA and sheep atadenovirus-vectored OAdV7.HIVA vaccines, followed by poxvirus MVA.HIVA; the weakest was plasmid pTH.HIVA DNA. The prime-boost regimens induced T cells capable of efficient in vivo killing of sensitized target cells. We also observed that the BCG.HIVA(401) and BCG.HIVA(222) vaccines have broadly similar immunologic properties, but display a number of differences mainly detected through distinct profiles of soluble intercellular signaling molecules produced by immune splenocytes in response to both HIV-1- and BCG-specific stimuli. These results encourage further development of the rBCG prime-boost regimen.
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