Recombination-mediated genetic engineering of a bacterial artificial chromosome clone of modified vaccinia virus ankara (MVA)
Cottingham MG., Andersen RF., Spencer AJ., Saurya S., Furze J., Hill AVS., Gilbert SC.
© 2008 Cottingham et al. The production, manipulation and rescue of a bacterial artificial chromosome clone of Vaccinia virus (VAC-BAC) in order to expedite construction of expression vectors and mutagenesis of the genome has been described (Domi & Moss, 2002, PNAS 99 12415-20). The genomic BAC clone was 'rescued' back to infectious virus using a Fowlpox virus helper to supply transcriptional machinery. We apply here a similar approach to the attenuated strain Modified Vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA), now widely used as a safe non-replicating recombinant vaccine vector in mammals, including humans. Four apparently full-length, rescuable clones were obtained, which had indistinguishable immunogenicity in mice. One clone was shotgun sequenced and found to be identical to the parent. We employed GalK recombination-mediated genetic engineering (recombineering) of MVA-BAC to delete five selected viral genes. Deletion of C12L, A44L, A46R or B7R did not significantly affect CD8+ T cell immunogenicity in BALB/c mice, but deletion of B15R enhanced specific CD8+ T cell responses to one of two endogenous viral epitopes (from the E2 and F2 proteins), in accordance with published work (Staib et al., 2005, J. Gen. Virol. 86, 1997-2006). In addition, we found a higher frequency of triple-positive IFN-γ, TNF-a and IL-2 secreting E3-specific CD8+ T-cells 8 weeks after vaccination with MVA lacking B15R. Furthermore, a recombinant vaccine capable of inducing CD8+ T cells against an epitope from Plasmodium berghei was created using GalK counterselection to insert an antigen expression cassette lacking a tandem marker gene into the traditional thymidine kinase locus of MVA-BAC. MVA continues to feature prominently in clinical trials of recombinant vaccines against diseases such as HIV-AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. Here we demonstrate in proof-of-concept experiments that MVA-BAC recombineering is a viable route to more rapid and efficient generation of new candidate mutant and recombinant vaccines based on a clinically deployable viral vector.