Accessory gene components for an HIV-1 subtype C vaccine : functional analysis of mutated Tat, Rev and Nef antigens

Scriba, Thomas Jens (2002-12)

Thesis (MSc)--University of Stellenbosch, 2002.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: HIV has attained a global distribution and the number of infected people reached an estimated 28.1 million in sub-Saharan Africa at the end of 2001. HIV-1 subtype C is overwhelmingly prevalent in Botswana and South Africa and to date no interventions have been successful enough to curb the rapid spread of the virus. A number of HIV-1 vaccine strategies are being developed, however the breadth and efficacy of such candidate vaccines, many of which are based on the HIV-1 structural genes pol, gag and env, have mostly been found to be inadequate. The HIV-1 accessory genes are attractive components of HIV vaccines due to their role in viral pathogenesis, early expression and the high ratio of conserved CTl epitopes. Yet, because of undesirable properties questions regarding their safety as vaccine components are raised. In this study candidate tat, rev and nefmutants were assessed for efficient expression and inactivation of undesirable functionality. / Plasmid constructs that encode the South African HIV-1 subtype C consensus Tat, Rev and Nef proteins were constructed. The coding sequences of the genes were codon-optimised for optimum protein expression and these synthetic genes were constructed using overlapping 50-mer oligonucleotides. Furthermore, the proteins were mutated at previously described sites by PCR-based site-directed mutagenesis to render them inactive for their respective functions. Corresponding wild-type Tat, Rev and Nef constructs were also made from viral isolates that were least dissimilar to the respective consensus amino acid sequences. tn vitro expression of the different constructs were assessed in 293 cells by Western blotting with polyclonal mouse sera, which were generated by DNA immunisation with one of the Tat, Rev and Nef constructs. The transactivation activity of Tat variants and Rev-mediated nuclear export activity of RRE-containing transcripts were studied in cotransfection experiments using reporter-gene-based assays while Nef functionality was assessed in a cotransfection assay with subsequent flow cytometric analysis of surface CD4 and MHC-I expression on 293 cells. Sequence analysis of the South African HIV-1 subtype C consensus sequences of Tat, Rev and Nef revealed a high degree of similarity with a consensus sequence that was drawn up from a large number of viruses from southern Africa. These consensus sequences were also closer to individual viral isolate sequences than any individual sequences were, indicating that the use of a consensus sequence may serve to reduce genetic diversity between a vaccine and circulating viruses. Expression levels of the sequence-modified tat and nef gene constructs were not significantly higher than the wild-type constructs, however, the codon-optimised rev mutant exhibited markedly higher expression than the wild-type rev construct. Immunoreactivity of the protein with the mouse sera demonstrates expression and immunogenicity of the Tat, Rev and Nef immunogens in mice. In the background of the subtype C Tat, a single C22 mutation was insufficient to inactivate l TRdependent CAT expression in 293T and Hela cells. Yet, this activity was significantly impaired using the single mutation, C3?, or the double mutation, C22C3? Compared to the wild-type Rev, the function of the Rev with a double mutation, M5M10, was completely abrogated. Similarly, while the wild-type Nef and native, codon-optimised consensus Nef proteins mediated CD4 and MHC-I downregulation, CD4 downregulation was completely abrogated in one of the mutants, while both Nef mutants were entirely deficient for MHC-I downregulation. These data demonstrate the high expression levels and impaired functionality of sequence-modified HIV-1 subtype C consensus Tat, Rev and Nef DNA immunogens that may be used as single-standing vaccine components or form part of a multicomponent HIV-1 vaccine.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Sedert die eerste gevalle van MIV in die vroeë 1980's beskryf is het die virus wêreldwyd versprei en 'n beraamde 28.1 miljoen mense in sub-Sahara Afrika was teen die einde van 2001 geïnfekteer. MIV-1 subtipe C kom verreweg die meeste voor in Botswana en Suid-Afrika en tans is daar geen suksesvolle tussenkoms wat die vinnige verspreiding van die virus kan stuit nie. 'n Aantal MIV-1 subtipe C entstofstrategieë word tans ontwikkel maar die spektrum en effektiwiteit van sulke entstowwe, waarvan baie op die MIV strukturele gene gag, pol en env gebaseer is, is tans onvoldoende. Die MIV-1 bykomstige gene is aantreklike entstofkomponente omdat hulle vroeg uitgedruk word, 'n belangrike rol in virale patogenese speel en omdat hulle 'n hoë verhouding van gekonserveerde sitotoksiese T-limfosiet (STL) epitope tot grootte besit. Vanweë hierdie gene se verskeie ongewenste eienskappe word vrae ten opsigte van hul veilige insluiting in enstofstrategieë geopper. Hierdie studie omskryf die evaluasie van kandidaat tat, reven nef mutante vir doeltreffende proteïenuitdrukking en funksionele onaktiwiteit. Plasmiedkonstrukte wat vir die Suid-Afrikaanse MIV-1 subtipe C konsensus Tat, Rev en Nef proteïene kodeer is saamgestel. Die koderingsvolgordes van die gene is geoptimiseer vir optimale uitdrukking en die sintetiese gene is van oorvleuelende 50- mer oligonukleotiede vervaardig. Deur van PKR-gebaseerde site-directed mutagenese gebruik te maak is hierdie proteïene gemuteer op posisies wat voorheen geïdentifiseer is. Ooreenstemmende wilde-tipe Tat, Reven Nef konstrukte is gemaak vanaf virale isolate waarvan die aminosuurvolgordes die meeste ooreenstem met dié van die konsensusvolgorde. In vitro uitdrukking van die konstrukte in 293 selle is met behulp van immunoklad met poliklonale muissera bepaal. Die serum is gegenereer deur DNS immunisasie van muise met een elk van die Tat, Reven Nef konstrukte. Die transaktiverings-aktiwiteit van Tat variante en Rev bemiddelde uitvoer van RREbesittende transkripte uit die nukleus is in verklikkergeen kotransfeksie-eksperimente bestudeer. Nef se funksionaliteit is deur kotransfeksie en die daaropvolgende vloeisitometriese analise van 293 selle se oppervlak-CD4 en MHC-I uitdrukking bestudeer. Nukleotiedvolgorde-analise van die Suid-Afrikaanse MIV-1 subtipe C konsensus Tat, Reven Nef proteiëne toon 'n hoë vlak van ooreenkoms met 'n konsensusvolgorde wat afgelei is vanaf 'n groot aantal suider-Afrikaanse virusse. Hierdie konsensusvolgordes is ook meer soortgelyk aan individuele virale isolate as enige individuele volgordes. Vanuit hierdie data kan afgelei word dat die gebruik van so 'n konsensusvolgorde die genetiese diversiteit tussen 'n entstof en sirkuierende virusse kan verminder. Uitdrukkingsvlakke van die volgorde-geoptimiseerde tat en nef geenkonstrukte is nie merkbaar hoër as die van die wilde-tipe konstrukte nie. In teenstelling het die volgorde-geoptimiseerde rev mutant merkbaar hoër uitdrukkingsvlakke as die wildetipe getoon. Immunoreaktiwiteit van die proteïene met die muissera demonstreer dat die Tat, Reven Nef proteïene uitgedruk word en immunogenies in muise is. 'n Enkele C22 mutasie in Tat is nie genoeg om lTR-afhanklike CAT uitdrukking in 293T en Hela selle te inaktiveer nie. In teenstelling is hierdie aktiwiteit geïnhibeer vir Tat proteïene met die enkel mutasie C37 en die dubbel mutasie C22C37. In vergelyking met die funksionele aktiwiteit van die wilde-tipe Rev is dié van die Rev mutant M5M10 heeltemal geïnhibeer. Die wilde-tipe en geoptimiseerde, konsensus Nef proteïene het seloppervlak-CD4 en -MHC-I uitdrukking verlaag, maar hierdie effek van afregulering van CD4 uitdrukking was heeltemaal opgehef in een Nef mutant en van MHC-I uitdrukking in beide Nef mutante. Hierdie data demonstreer die hoë uitdrukkingsvlakke en geïnhibeerde funksionaliteit van volgorde-gemodifiseerde MIV-1 subtipe C konsensus Tat, Reven Nef DNS immunogene wat as enkelstaande enstof kan optree of deel kan uitmaak van 'n multi-komponent MIV-1 entstof.

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