Viral vaccine vectors have emerged as an attractive strategy for the development of a human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) vaccine. Recombinant Newcastle disease virus (rNDV) stands out as a vaccine vector since it has a proven safety profile in humans, it is a potent inducer of both alpha interferon (IFN-α) and IFN-β) production, and it is a potent inducer of dendritic cell (DC) maturation. Our group has previously generated an rNDV vector expressing a codon-optimized HIV Gag protein and demonstrated its ability to induce a Gag-specific CD8+ T cell response in mice. In this report we demonstrate that the Gag-specific immune response can be further enhanced by the targeting of the rNDV-encoded HIV Gag antigen to DCs. Targeting of the HIV Gag antigen was achieved by the addition of a single-chain Fv (scFv) antibody specific for the DC-restricted antigen uptake receptor DEC205 such that the DEC205 scFv-Gag molecule was encoded for expression as a fusion protein. The vaccination of mice with rNDV coding for the DC-targeted Gag antigen induced an enhanced Gag-specific CD8+ T cell response and enhanced numbers of CD4+ T cells and CD8+ T cells in the spleen relative to vaccination with rNDV coding for a nontargeted Gag antigen. Importantly, mice vaccinated with the DEC205-targeted vaccine were better protected from challenge with a recombinant vaccinia virus expressing the HIV Gag protein. Here we demonstrate that the targeting of the HIV Gag antigen to DCs via the DEC205 receptor enhances the ability of an rNDV vector to induce a potent antigen-specific immune response
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