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Electroporation of a multivalent DNA vaccine cocktail elicits a protective immune response against anthrax and plague

Albrecht, MT;Livingston, BD;Pesce, JT;Bell, MG;Hannaman, D;Keane-Myers, AM;

Electroporation of DNA vaccines represents a platform technology well positioned for the development of multivalent biodefense vaccines. To evaluate this hypothesis, three vaccine constructs were produced using codon-optimized genes encoding Bacillus anthracis Protective Antigen (PA), and the Yersinia pestis genes LcrV and F1, cloned into pVAX1. A/J mice were immunized on a prime-boost schedule with these constructs using the electroporation-based TriGrid Delivery System. Immunization with the individual pDNA vaccines elicited higher levels of antigen-specific IgG than when used in combination. DNA vaccine effectiveness was proven, the pVAX-PA titers were toxin neutralizing and fully protective against a lethal B. anthracis spore challenge when administered alone or co-formulated with the plague pDNA vaccines. LcrV and F1 pVAX vaccines against plague were synergistic, resulting in 100% survival, but less protective individually and when co-formulated with pVAX-PA. These DNA vaccine responses were Th1/Th2 balanced with high levels of IFN- and IL-4 in splenocyte recall assays, contrary to complimentary protein Alum vaccinations displaying a Th2 bias with increased IL-4 and low levels of IFN-. These results demonstrate the feasibility of electroporation to deliver and maintain the overall efficacy of an anthrax-plague DNA vaccine cocktail whose individual components have qualitative immunological differences when combined.