A novel DNA platform designed for vaccine use with high transgene expression and immunogenicity

George Giorgi Babuadze, Jose Echanove, Claude Lamarre, Marc Antoine deLaVega, Hugues Fausther-Bovendo, Trina Racine, Alejandro M.Gomez, Hiva Azizi, Mathew Wade, Robert Kozak, Gary P. Kobinger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The development of new, low-cost vaccines and effective gene therapies requires accurate delivery and high-level expression of candidate genes. We developed a plasmid vector, pIDV-II, that allows for both easy manipulation and high expression of exogenous genes in mammalian cells. This plasmid is based upon the pVax1 plasmid and shares a common structure with typical mammalian transcription units. It is composed of a chicken β-actin promoter (CAG), followed by an intron and flanked by two restriction sites, and also includes a post-transcriptional regulatory element, followed by a transcriptional termination signal. While the modification of pVax1 elements either decreased eGFP expression levels or had no effect at all, replacement of the promoter, the poly-A signal, deletion of the T7 and AmpR promoters, and inversion of the ORI-Neo/Kan cassette, significantly increased in vitro eGFP expression with the modified plasmid called pIDV-II. To further evaluate our vector, expression levels of three viral antigens were compared in cell lines transfected either with pVax1 or pCAGGS backbones as controls. Higher transgene expression was consistently observed with pIDV-II. The humoral and cellular responses generated in mice immunized with pIDV-II vs pVax1 expressing each viral antigen individually were superior by 2-fold or more as measured by ELISA and ELISPOT assays. Overall these results indicate that pIDV-II induces robust transgene expression, with concomitant improved cellular and humoral immune responses against the transgene of interest over pVax1. The new vector, pIDV-II, offers an additional alternative for DNA based vaccination and gene therapy for animal and human use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7175-7181
Number of pages7
Issue number49
StatePublished - Dec 3 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • DNA
  • Immunogenicity
  • Novel plasmid
  • Vaccine
  • Viral antigens

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Veterinary
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases


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