The Journal of infectious diseases

Immune responses to hepatitis C virus structural and nonstructural proteins induced by plasmid DNA immunizations.

PMID 10608749


DNA-based immunizations have been used to elicit cellular immunity to hepatitis C virus (HCV) proteins in mice. Mice were immunized by intramuscular or intradermal injections of plasmid DNA derived from a near-full-length HCV genotype 1b genomic clone (pRC/B2) or individual genomic clones. These immunizations induced cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs), as revealed in standard chromium-release assays that used syngeneic peptide-pulsed or transfected target cells. These assays identified four CTL epitopes within the capsid, E1, and E2 regions of the polyprotein sequence of HCV genotype 1a that were cross-reactive with HCV genotype 1b. Additionally, CTLs derived from mice immunized with either NS3 or NS5 specifically lysed target cells sensitized to either the genotype 1a or 1b gene products. Nucleic acid immunizations also generated humoral immunity to HCV proteins, as detected by anti-HCV reactivity to NS3 and capsid in ELISAs and immunoblot assays.