Cellular immune responses play a fundamental role in controlling viral replication and AIDS progression in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected subjects and in simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV)-infected macaques. Integrase defective lentiviral vector (IDLV) represents a promising vaccine candidate, inducing functional and durable immune responses in mice and non-human primates. Here, we designed HIV- and SIV-based IDLVs to express the HIVACAT T cell immunogen (HTI), a mosaic antigen designed to cover vulnerable sites in HIV-1 Gag, Pol, Vif, and Nef. We observed that HTI expression during lentiviral vector production interfered profoundly with IDLV particles release because of sequestration of both HIV- and SIV-Gag proteins in the cytoplasm of the vector-producing cells. However, modifications in IDLV design and vector production procedures greatly improved recovery of both HIV- and SIV-based IDLV-HTI. Immunization experiments in BALB/c mice showed that both IDLVs elicited HTI-specific T cell responses. However, immunization with HIV-based IDLV elicited also a T cell response toward exogenous HIV proteins in IDLV particles, suggesting that SIV-based IDLV may be a preferable platform to assess the induction of transgene-specific immune responses against rationally designed HIV structural antigens. These data support the further evaluation of IDLV as an effective platform of T cell immunogens for the development of an effective HIV vaccine.
Keywords: Gag; HIV-1; HTI; IDLV; Pol; immunization; integrase defective; lentiviral vector; mosaic; vaccine.
© 2020 The Author(s).