Expression of the HTLV-III envelope gene by a recombinant vaccinia virus

Chakrabarti, S.; Robert-Guroff, M.; Wong-Staal, F.; Gallo, R.C.; Moss, B.

Nature 320(6062): 535-537


ISSN/ISBN: 0028-0836
PMID: 3008001
DOI: 10.1038/320535a0
Document Number: 366154
The discovery that the aetiological agent of acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) is a retrovirus, referred to as human T-lymphotropic virus type III (HTLV-III) or lymphadenopathy-associated virus (LAV) (for review see ref. 1), has raised the possibility of developing a vaccine. In this regard, the envelope (env) proteins of murine retroviruses can induce protective immunity in mice. The HTLV-III env gene specifies a primary polypeptide of approximately 860 amino acids that is glycosylated to form a precursor of relative molecular mass (Mr) 160,000 (gp160), which gives rise to mature membrane-associated proteins of Mr 120,000 (gp120) and 41,000 (gp41). The HTLV-III env gene has been expressed in Escherichia coli and by simian virus 40 (SV40) vectors but formation of the authentic proteins has not been demonstrated. Here, we describe the expression of the complete env gene by a vaccinia virus vector. Evidence is presented that synthesis, glycosylation, processing and membrane transport of the env polypeptide occurred without other HTLV-III gene functions; the env protein was recognized by sera from unrelated AIDs patients; and a single vaccination with the infectious recombinant vaccinia virus induced antibodies to gp120 in mice.

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