Priming with a potent HIV -1 DNA vaccine frames the quality of immune responses prior to a poxvirus and protein boost

Benedikt Asbach, Karen Kibler, Josef Köstler, Beatriz Perdiguero, Nicole L. Yates, Sherry Stanfield-Oakley, Georgia D. Tomaras, Shing Fen Kao, Kathryn E. Foulds, Mario Roederer, Michael S. Seaman, David C. Montefiori, Robert Parks, Guido Ferrari, Donald N. Forthal, Sanjay Phogat, James Tartaglia, Susan W. Barnett, Steven G. Self, Raphael GottardoAnthony D. Cristillo, Deborah E. Weiss, Lindsey Galmin, Song Ding, Jonathan L. Heeney, Mariano Esteban, Bertram Jacobs, Giuseppe Pantaleo, Ralf Wagner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


The use of heterologous immunization regimens and improved vector systems has led to increases in immunogenicity of HIV -1 vaccine candidates in nonhuman primates. In order to resolve interrelations between different delivery modalities, three different poxvirus boost regimens were compared. Three groups of rhesus macaques were each primed with the same DNA vaccine encoding Gag, Pol, Nef, and gp140. The groups were then boosted with either the vaccinia virus strain NYVAC or a variant with improved replication competence in human cells, termed NYVAC-KC. The latter was administered either by scarification or intramuscularly. Finally, macaques were boosted with adjuvanted gp120 protein to enhance humoral responses. The regimen elicited very potent CD4 and CD8T cell responses in a well-balanced manner, peaking 2 weeks after the boost. T cells were broadly reactive and polyfunctional. All animals exhibited antigenspecific humoral responses already after the poxvirus boost, which further increased following protein administration. Polyclonal reactivity of IgG antibodies was highest against HIV -1 clade C Env proteins, with considerable cross-reactivity to other clades. Substantial effector functional activities (antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity and antibody-dependent cell-mediated virus inhibition) were observed in serum obtained after the last protein boost. Notably, major differences between the groups were absent, indicating that the potent priming induced by the DNA vaccine initially framed the immune responses in such a way that the subsequent boosts with NYVAC and protein led only to an increase in the response magnitudes without skewing the quality. This study highlights the importance of selecting the best combination of vector systems in heterologous prime-boost vaccination regimens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere01529-18
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1 2019


  • Antibody responses
  • DNA vaccine
  • Gag-pol-nef
  • Gp140
  • Human immunodeficiency virus
  • Nonhuman primates
  • Nyvac
  • Nyvac-kc
  • T cell responses
  • Vaccine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology


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