A heterologous DNA prime/protein boost immunization strategy for rhesus cytomegalovirus

Kristina Abel, Lisa Strelow, Yujuan Yue, Meghan K. Eberhardt, Kimberli A. Schmidt, Peter A Barry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


A previous study in nonhuman primates demonstrated that genetic immunization against the rhesus cytomegalovirus phosphoprotein 65-2 (pp65-2) and glycoprotein B (gB) antigens both stimulated antigen-specific antibodies and CD8 T cell responses, and significantly reduced plasma viral loads following intravenous challenge with RhCMV. It was also noted in this study that weak CD4 T cell and neutralizing antibody responses were generated by DNA alone. To broaden the type of immune responses, a DNA prime/protein boost strategy was used in seronegative macaques, consisting of four DNA immunizations against pp65-2, gB, and immediate-early 1 (IE1), followed by two boosts with formalin-inactivated RhCMV virions. This heterologous prime/boost strategy elicited robust antigen-specific CD4 and CD8 T cell responses in addition to biologically relevant neutralizing antibody titers. Animals were challenged with RhCMV delivered into four sites via a subcutaneous route. Skin biopsies of one of the inoculation sites 7 days post challenge revealed marked differences in the level of RhCMV replication between the vaccinated and control monkeys. Whereas the inoculation site in the controls was noted for a prominent inflammatory response and numerous cytomegalic, antigen-positive (IE1) cells, the inoculation site in the vaccinees was characterized by an absence of inflammation and antigen-positive cells. All five vaccinees developed robust recall responses to viral antigens, and four of them exhibited long-term viral immune responses consistent with effective control of viral expression and replication. These results demonstrate that a heterologous DNA prime/protein boost strategy greatly expands the breadth of antiviral immune responses and greatly reduces the level of viral replication at the primary site of challenge infection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6013-6025
Number of pages13
Issue number47
StatePublished - Nov 5 2008


  • Cytomegalovirus
  • Macaque
  • Vaccine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • veterinary(all)
  • Molecular Medicine


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