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Sep 08, 2015
Viral vectors are promising tools for vaccination strategies and immunotherapies. However, CD8⁺ T cell responses against pathogen-derived epitopes are usually limited to dominant epitopes and antibody responses to recombinant encoded antigens (Ags) are mostly weak. We have previously demonstrated that the timing of viral Ag expression in infected professional Ag-presenting cells strongly shapes the epitope immunodominance hierarchy. T cells recognizing determinants derived from late viral proteins have a clear disadvantage to proliferate during secondary responses. In this work we evaluate the effect of overexpressing the recombinant Ag using the modified vaccinia virus early/late promoter H5 (mPH5). Although the Ag-expression from the natural promoter 7.5 (P7.5) and the mPH5 seemed similar, detailed analysis showed that mPH5 not only induces higher expression levels than P7.5 during early phase of infection, but also Ag turnover is enhanced. The strong overexpression during the early phase leads to broader CD8 T cell responses, while preserving the priming efficiency of stable Ags. Moreover, the increase in Ag-secretion favors the induction of strong antibody responses. Our findings provide the rationale to develop new strategies for fine-tuning the responses elicited by recombinant modified vaccinia virus Ankara by using selected promoters to improve the performance of this viral vector.

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