The murine cytomegalovirus (MCMV) immediate-early gene 1 (IE1) encodes an 89-kDa phosphoprotein (pp89) which plays a key role in protecting BALB/c mice against the lethal effects of the MCMV infection. In this report, we have addressed the question of whether 'naked DNA' vaccination with a eukaryotic expression vector (pcDNA-89) that contains the MCMV IE1 gent driven by a strong enhancer/promoter can confer protection. BALB/c mice were immunized intradermally with pcDNA-89 or with the plasmid backbone pcDNAI/Amp (pcDNA) and then challenged 2 weeks later with either a lethal or a sublethal intraperitoneal dose of the K181 strain of MCMV. Variable results were obtained for the individual experiments in which mice received a lethal challenge. In four separate trials, an average of 63% of the mice immunized with pcDNA-89 survived, compared with 18% of the mice immunized with pcDNA. However, in two other trials there was no specific protection. The results of experiments in which mice were injected with a sublethal dose of MCMV were more consistent, and significant decreases in viral titer in the spleen and salivary glands of pcDNA-89-immunized mice were observed, relative to controls. At the time of peak vital replication, titers in the spleens of immunized mice were reduced 18- to >63-fold, while those in the salivary gland were reduced approximately 24- to 48-fold. Although DNA immunization elicited only a low level of seroconversion in these mice, by 7 weeks postimmunization the mice had generated a cytotoxic T-lymphocyte response against pp89. These results suggest that DNA vaccination with selected CMV genes may provide a safe and efficient means of immunizing against CMV disease.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science