Optimization of translation enhancing element use to increase protein expression in a vaccinia virus system

Harold B. Richard, Stephanie Minder, Amandeep Sidhu, Amber N. Juba, James K. Jancovich, Bertram L. Jacobs, Brian P. Wellensiek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Since the successful use of vaccinia virus (VACV) in the immunization strategies to eliminate smallpox, research has been focused on the development of recombinant VACV strains expressing proteins from various pathogens. Attempts at decreasing the side effects associated with exposure to recombinant, wild-type viral strains have led to the development of attenuated viruses. Yet while these attenuated VACV's have improved safety profiles compared to unmodified strains, their clinical use has been hindered due to efficacy issues in stimulating a host immune response. This deficiency has largely been attributed to decreased production of the target protein for immunization. Efforts to increase protein production from attenuated VACV strains has largely centered around modulation of viral factors, while manipulation of the translation of viral mRNAs has been largely unexplored. In this study we evaluate the use of translation enhancing element hTEE-658 to increase recombinant protein production in an attenuated VACV system. Optimization of the use of this motif is also attempted by combining it with strategies that have demonstrated effectiveness in previous research. We show that extension of the 5' leader sequence containing hTEE-658 does not improve motif function, nor does the combination with other known translation enhancing elements. However, the sole use of hTEE-658 in an attenuated VACV system is shown to increase protein expression levels beyond those of a standard viral promoter when used with a wild-type virus. Taken together these results highlight the potential for hTEE-658 to improve the effectiveness of attenuated VACV vaccine candidates and give insights into the optimal sequence context for its use in vaccine design.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number001624
JournalJournal of General Virology
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2021


  • Protein expression
  • Translation enhancing element
  • Vaccine development
  • Vaccinia virus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Virology


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