PhD, Imperial College London, Immunology (2012)
Master of Science, University Of Cape Town (2008)
Bachelor of Science, University Of Cape Town (2005)
The importance of viral and tumour vaccines in eliciting elicit strong CD8+ T-cell responses has been widely acknowledged. Strategies exploring ways to enhance CD8+ T-cell responses have been developed, including targeting of vaccine antigens to dendritic cell (DC) receptors to access to the cross presentation pathway. Many DC endocytic receptors could potentially lead to augmented CD8+ T-cell responses if antigens were targeted directly to them, however only a few receptors have been explored because current targeting reagents are limited in the number of receptors that they are able to target. Consequently, this study describes the production and purification of a streptavidin-fusion protein that provides a versatile and efficient means to target antigen to more than one DC receptor. A model antigen gene, CMV pp65, and a streptavidin core gene, were spliced together using an overlap-extension PCR technique. The resulting fusion gene was cloned into a vector allowing expression in an Adenovirus-based expression system. Expression was verified and optimised before Ni-NTA affinity chromatography purification. Evaluation of pp65-streptavidin immunogenicity revealed that it elicits similar levels of CD8+ T-cell proliferative responses as pp65 and is able to effectively target specific DC receptors when used in addition to biotinylated receptor-specific antibodies. Additionally, enhancement of CD8+ T-cell responses was shown after directing pp65-strep to selected DC receptors in preliminary in vitro experiments. Collectively, this highlights the ease of production of a streptavidin-fusion protein, and demonstrates its use as a promising strategy to evaluate numerous DC receptors as potential targets in vaccine strategies.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.pep.2012.06.004
View details for Web of Science ID 000306885500013
View details for PubMedID 22728768
Several approaches have been explored to eradicate HIV; however, a multigene vaccine appears to be the best option, given their proven potential to elicit broad, effective responses in animal models. The Pr55Gag protein is an excellent vaccine candidate in its own right, given that it can assemble into large, enveloped, virus-like particles (VLPs) which are highly immunogenic, and can moreover be used as a scaffold for the presentation of other large non-structural HIV antigens. In this study, we evaluated the potential of two novel chimaeric HIV-1 Pr55Gag-based VLP constructs - C-terminal fusions with reverse transcriptase and a Tat::Nef fusion protein, designated GagRT and GagTN respectively - to enhance a cellular response in mice when used as boost components in two types of heterologous prime-boost vaccine strategies. A vaccine regimen consisting of a DNA prime and chimaeric HIV-1 VLP boosts in mice induced strong, broad cellular immune responses at an optimum dose of 100 ng VLPs. The enhanced cellular responses induced by the DNA prime-VLP boost were two- to three-fold greater than two DNA vaccinations. Moreover, a mixture of GagRT and GagTN VLPs also boosted antigen-specific CD8+ and CD4+ T-cell responses, while VLP vaccinations only induced predominantly robust Gag CD4+ T-cell responses. The results demonstrate the promising potential of these chimaeric VLPs as vaccine candidates against HIV-1.
View details for DOI 10.1186/1476-8518-8-7
View details for PubMedID 21087527
A baculovirus-insect cell expression system potentially provides the means to produce prophylactic HIV-1 virus-like particle (VLP) vaccines inexpensively and in large quantities. However, the system must be optimized to maximize yields and increase process efficiency. In this study, we optimized the production of two novel, chimeric HIV-1 VLP vaccine candidates (GagRT and GagTN) in insect cells. This was done by monitoring the effects of four specific factors on VLP expression: these were insect cell line, cell density, multiplicity of infection (MOI), and infection time. The use of western blots, Gag p24 ELISA, and four-factorial ANOVA allowed the determination of the most favorable conditions for chimeric VLP production, as well as which factors affected VLP expression most significantly. Both VLP vaccine candidates favored similar optimal conditions, demonstrating higher yields of VLPs when produced in the Trichoplusia ni Pro insect cell line, at a cell density of 1 x 10(6) cells/mL, and an infection time of 96 h post infection. It was found that cell density and infection time were major influencing factors, but that MOI did not affect VLP expression significantly. This work provides a potentially valuable guideline for HIV-1 protein vaccine optimization, as well as for general optimization of a baculovirus-based expression system to produce complex recombinant proteins.
View details for DOI 10.1002/btpr.187
View details for Web of Science ID 000269403000031
View details for PubMedID 19572400
HIV-1 Pr55 Gag virus-like particles (VLPs) are strong immunogens with potential as candidate HIV vaccines. VLP immunogenicity can be broadened by making chimaeric Gag molecules: however, VLPs incorporating polypeptides longer than 200 aa fused in frame with Gag have not yet been reported. We constructed a range of gag-derived genes encoding in-frame C-terminal fusions of myristoylation-competent native Pr55Gag and p6-truncated Gag (Pr50Gag) to test the effects of polypeptide length and sequence on VLP formation and morphology, in an insect cell expression system. Fused sequences included a modified reverse transcriptase-Tat-Nef fusion polypeptide (RTTN, 778 aa), and truncated versions of RTTN ranging from 113 aa to 450 aa. Baculovirus-expressed chimaeric proteins were examined by western blot and electron microscopy. All chimaeras formed VLPs which could be purified by sucrose gradient centrifugation. VLP diameter increased with protein MW, from approximately 100 nm for Pr55Gag to approximately 250 nm for GagRTTN. The presence or absence of the Gag p6 region did not obviously affect VLP formation or appearance. GagRT chimaeric particles were successfully used in mice to boost T-cell responses to Gag and RT that were elicited by a DNA vaccine encoding a GagRTTN polypeptide, indicating the potential of such chimaeras to be used as candidate HIV vaccines.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.virusres.2008.01.012
View details for Web of Science ID 000255467700015
View details for PubMedID 18329748