Development and evaluation of an ebola virus glycoprotein mucin-like domain replacement system as a new dendritic cell-targeting vaccine approach against HIV-1

Zhujun Ao, Lijun Wang, Hiva Azizi, Titus Abiola Olukitibi, Gary Kobinger, Xiaojian Yao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The development of efficient vaccine approaches against HIV infection remains challenging in the vaccine field. Here, we developed an Ebola virus envelope glycoprotein (EboGP)-based chimeric fusion protein system and demonstrated that replacement of the mucin-like domain (MLD) of EboGP with HIV C2-V3-C3 (134 amino acids [aa]) or C2-V3-C3-V4-C4-V5-C5 (243 aa) polypeptides (EbGPDM-V3 and EbGPDM-V3-V5, respectively) still maintained the efficiency of EboGP-mediated viral entry into human macrophages and dendritic cells (DCs). Animal studies using mice revealed that immunization with virus-like particles (VLPs) containing the above chimeric proteins, especially EbGPDM-V3, induced significantly more potent anti-HIV antibodies than HIV gp120 alone in mouse serum and vaginal fluid. Moreover, the splenocytes isolated from mice immunized with VLPs containing EbGPDM-V3 produced significantly higher levels of gamma interferon (IFN-g), interleukin 2 (IL-2), IL-4, IL-5, and macrophage inflammatory protein 1a (MIP-1a). Additionally, we demonstrated that coexpression of EbGPDM-V3 and the HIV Env glycoprotein in a recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus (rVSV) vector elicited robust anti-HIV antibodies that may have specifically recognized epitopes outside or inside the C2-V3-C3 region of HIV-1 gp120 and cross-reacted with the gp120 from different HIV strains. Thus, this study has demonstrated the great potential of this DC-targeting vaccine platform as a new vaccine approach for improving immunogen delivery and increasing vaccine efficacy. IMPORTANCE Currently, there are more than 38.5 million reported cases of HIV globally. To date, there is no approved vaccine for HIV-1 infection. Thus, the development of an effective vaccine against HIV infection remains a global priority. This study revealed the efficacy of a novel dendritic cell (DC)-targeting vaccination approach against HIV-1. The results clearly show that the immunization of mice with virus-like particles (VLPs) and VSVs containing HIV Env and a fusion protein composed of a DC-targeting domain of Ebola virus GP with HIV C2-V3-C3 polypeptides (EbGPDM-V3) could induce robust immune responses against HIV-1 Env and/or Gag in serum and vaginal mucosa. These findings provide a proof of concept of this novel and efficient DC-targeting vaccine approach in delivering various antigenic polypeptides of HIV-1 and/or other emergent infections to the host antigen-presenting cells to prevent HIV and other viral infections.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere02368-20
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number15
StatePublished - Aug 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Dendritic cells
  • Ebola virus glycoprotein
  • HIV-1
  • VSV vector
  • Vaccines
  • Virus-like particles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology


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