Main features of DNA-based immunization vectors


DNA-based immunization has initiated a new era of vaccine research. One of the main goals of gene vaccine development is the control of the levels of expression in vivo for efficient immunization. Modifying the vector to modulate expression or immunogenicity is of critical importance for the improvement of DNA vaccines. The most frequently used vectors for genetic immunization are plasmids. In this article, we review some of the main elements relevant to their design such as strong promoter/enhancer region, introns, genes encoding antigens of interest from the pathogen (how to choose and modify them), polyadenylation termination sequence, origin of replication for plasmid production in Escherichia coli, antibiotic resistance gene as selectable marker, convenient cloning sites, and the presence of immunostimulatory sequences (ISS) that can be added to the plasmid to enhance adjuvanticity and to activate the immune system. In this review, the specific modifications that can increase overall expression as well as the potential of DNA-based vaccination are also discussed

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