Development of dengue virus replicons expressing HIV-1 gp120 and other heterologous genes: a potential future tool for dual vaccination against dengue virus and HIV
Laboratory of Molecular Virology, Division of Emerging and Transfusion Transmitted Diseases, Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, FDA, Bethesda, MD, USA
BMC Microbiology 2001, 1:28 doi:10.1186/1471-2180-1-28Published: 13 November 2001
Toward the goals of providing an additional vector to add to the armamentarium available to HIV vaccinologists and of creating a bivalent vaccine effective against dengue virus and HIV, we have attempted to create vectors which express dengue virus non-structural proteins and HIV immunogens. Previously we reported the successful construction of dengue virus replicons which lack structural genes necessary for virion release and spreading infection in culture but which can replicate intracellularly and abundantly produce dengue non-structural proteins. Here we attempted to express heterologous genetic material from these replicons.
We cloned into a Δpre-M/E dengue virus replicon genes for either green fluorescent protein (GFP), HIV gp160 or HIV gp120 and tested the ability of these constructs to express dengue virus proteins as well as the heterologous proteins in tissue culture after transfection of replicon RNA.
Heterologous proteins were readily expressed from these constructs. GFP and gp120 demonstrated minimal or no toxicity. Gp160 expressing replicons were found to express proteins abundantly at 36 hours post transfection, but after 50 hrs of transfection, few replicon positive cells could be found despite the presence of cellular debris positive for replicon proteins. This suggested that gp160 expressed from dengue virus replicons is considerably more toxic than either GFP or gp120. The successful expression of heterologous proteins, including HIV gp120 for long periods in culture suggests this vector system may be useful as a vaccine vector, given appropriate delivery methods.