Robust immunity to an auxotrophic Mycobacterium bovis BCG-VLP prime-boost HIV vaccine candidate in a nonhuman primate model

Gerald K. Chege, Wendy A. Burgers, Helen Stutz, Ann E. Meyers, Rosamund Chapman, Agano Kiravu, Rubina Bunjun, Enid G. Shephard, William R. Jacobs, Edward P. Rybicki, Anna Lise Williamson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


We previously reported that a recombinant pantothenate auxotroph of Mycobacterium bovis BCG expressing human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) subtype C Gag (rBCGpan-Gag) efficiently primes the mouse immune system for a boost with a recombinant modified vaccinia virus Ankara (rMVA) vaccine. In this study, we further evaluated the immunogenicity of rBCGpan- Gag in a nonhuman primate model. Two groups of chacma baboons were primed or mock primed twice with either rBCGpan- Gag or a control BCG. Both groups were boosted with HIV-1 Pr55gag virus-like particles (Gag VLPs). The magnitude and breadth of HIV-specific cellular responses were measured using a gamma interferon (IFN-γ) enzyme-linked immunosorbent spot (ELISPOT) assay, and the cytokine profiles and memory phenotypes of T cells were evaluated by polychromatic flow cytometry. Gag-specific responses were detected in all animals after the second inoculation with rBCGpan-Gag. Boosting with Gag VLPs significantly increased the magnitude and breadth of the re ponses in the baboons that were primed with rBCGpan-Gag. These responses targeted an average of 12 Gag peptides per animal, compared to an average of 3 peptides per animal for the mockprimed controls. Robust responses of Gag-specific polyfunctional T cells capable of simultaneously producing IFN-γ, tumor necrosis alpha (TNF-α), and interleukin-2 (IL-2) were detected in the rBCGpan-Gag-primed animals. Gag-specific memory T cells were skewed toward a central memory phenotype in both CD8+ and CD8+ T cell populations. These data show that the rBCGpan-Gag prime and Gag VLP boost vaccine regimen is highly immunogenic, inducing a broad and polyfunctional central memory T cell response. This report further indicates the feasibility of developing a BCG-based HIV vaccine that is safe for childhood HIV immunization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5151-5160
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology


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