Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) represents a major cause of clinical complications during pregnancy as well as immunosuppression, and the licensing of a protective HCMV vaccine remains an unmet global need. Here, we designed and validated novel Sendai virus (SeV) vectors delivering the T cell immunogens IE-1 and pp65. To enhance vector safety, we used a replication-deficient strain (rdSeV) that infects target cells in a nonproductive manner while retaining viral gene expression. In this study, we explored the impact that transduction with rdSeV has on human dendritic cells (DCs) by comparing it to the parental, replication-competent Sendai virus strain (rcSeV) as well as the poxvirus strain modified vaccinia Ankara (MVA). We found that wild-type SeV is capable of replicating to high titers in DCs while rdSeV infects cells abortively. Due to the higher degree of attenuation, IE-1 and pp65 protein levels mediated by rdSeV after infection of DCs were markedly reduced compared to those of the parental Sendai virus recombinants, but antigen-specific restimulation of T cell clones was not negatively affected by this. Importantly, rdSeV showed reduced cytotoxic effects compared to rcSeV and MVA and was capable of mediating DC maturation as well as secretion of alpha interferon and interleukin-6. Finally, in a challenge model with a murine cytomegalovirus (MCMV) strain carrying an HCMV pp65 peptide, we found that viral replication was restricted if mice were previously vaccinated with rdSeV-pp65. Taken together, these data demonstrate that rdSeV has great potential as a vector system for the delivery of HCMV immunogens.IMPORTANCE HCMV is a highly prevalent betaherpesvirus that establishes lifelong latency after primary infection. Congenital HCMV infection is the most common viral complication in newborns, causing a number of late sequelae ranging from impaired hearing to mental retardation. At the same time, managing HCMV reactivation during immunosuppression remains a major hurdle in posttransplant care. Since options for the treatment of HCMV infection are still limited, the development of a vaccine to confine HCMV-related morbidities is urgently needed. We generated new vaccine candidates in which the main targets of T cell immunity during natural HCMV infection, IE-1 and pp65, are delivered by a replication-deficient, Sendai virus-based vector system. In addition to classical prophylactic vaccine concepts, these vectors could also be used for therapeutic applications, thereby expanding preexisting immunity in high-risk groups such as transplant recipients or for immunotherapy of glioblastomas expressing HCMV antigens.
Keywords: HCMV; MCMV; Sendai virus; cytomegalovirus; dendritic cells; vaccine.
Copyright © 2018 American Society for Microbiology.