Indexed on: 25 Aug '00Published on: 25 Aug '00Published in: AIDS research and human retroviruses
Genetic immunization may be one way to prime individuals for a subsequent broad anti-HIV-1 immune response. Reverse transcriptase of HIV-1 (RT) presents a selective target for attempts to arrest replication of HIV-1. Rabbits immunized with a plasmid carrying the gene for reverse transcriptase HIV-1 (RT DNA) developed potent antibody and cellular responses to the gene product. The immunogenic properties of RT DNA and recombinant reverse transcriptase were compared in rabbits. The specific immune responses were similar to those reported previously for HIV-1 infected humans. The array of B and T cell epitopes recognized in RT DNA-immunized rabbits was broader than in rabbits immunized with the recombinant RT. We localized seven novel B and T cell epitopes and concordance between B cell and helper T cell epitopes was observed. B cell epitopes of RT induced proliferation of peripheral blood mononuclear cells and were active as helper T cell epitopes. T cell-proliferative responses to the epitopes of RT preceded or paralleled the production of antibodies of the same specificity. Subdomains of reverse transcriptase involved in the enzymatic activity of RT were highly immunogenic. Anti-RT IgG partially inhibited reverse transcription in vitro.