DNA Immunization with the Gene Encoding P4 Nuclease of Leishmania amazonensis Protects Mice against Cutaneous Leishmaniasis

Kimberly Campbell, Hong Diao, Jiaxiang Ji, Lynn Soong

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51 Scopus citations


Infection with the protozoan parasite Leishmania amazonensis can cause diverse clinical forms of leishmaniasis. Immunization with purified P4 nuclease protein has been shown to elicit a protective response in mice challenged with L. amazonensis and L. pifanoi. To explore the potential of a DNA-based vaccine, we tested the L. amazonensis gene encoding P4 nuclease as well as adjuvant constructs encoding murine interleukin-12 (IL-12) and L. amazonensis HSP70. Susceptible BALB/c mice were immunized with the DNA encoding P4 alone, P4/IL-12, or P4/HSP70 prior to challenge with L. amazonensis promastigotes. Mice given P4/IL-12 exhibited no lesion development and had a 3- to 4-log reduction in tissue parasite burdens compared to controls. This protection corresponded to significant increases in gamma interferon and tumor necrosis factor alpha production and a reduction in parasite-specific immunoglobulin G1, suggesting an enhancement in Th1 responses. Moreover, we immunized mice with the L. amazonensis vaccines to determine if this vaccine regimen could provide cross-protection against a genetically diverse species, L. major. While the P4/HSP70 vaccine led to self-healing lesions, the P4/IL-12 vaccine provided negligible protection against L. major infection. This is the first report of successful use of a DNA vaccine to induce protection against L. amazonensis infection. Additionally, our results indicate that different vaccine combinations, including DNA encoding P4, HSP70, or IL-12, can provide significant protection against both Old World and New World cutaneous leishmaniasis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6270-6278
Number of pages9
JournalInfection and immunity
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases


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