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Tat-independent lentivirus genomes for vaccination and host/pathogen interaction studies

Abstract : Our lab has previously described the generation of a unique vaccine prototype against HIV-1/AIDS. It is a non-integrative DNA lentivector vaccine tested in pilot studies in animal models of HIV vaccine. The non-human primate study showed protection of all 6/6 macaques and immune response correlates were composed of a variety of effector (EM) and central memory (CM) T cells. More importantly, they also contained high proliferating antigen specific cells containing a type of stem cell-like memory T cells (TSCM). In this thesis the vaccine was enhanced further by switching the CXCR4 envelope of the vaccine to CCR5 tropic envelopes such as the clade B WARO obtained from a chronically infected patient and a series of three transmitted/founder (T/F) HIV Clade C strains from Zambia. To improve further the vaccine we developed new strategies to incorporate molecular adjuvants able to enhance and sustain the newly elicited immune responses.Since the human lentivirus HIV-1 has developed multiple complex strategies to persist, the focus of the next part of my thesis was to develop a tool to ease and better understand the underlying mechanisms of latency in infected memory CD4+ T cells. Latently-infected cells have non-expressed integrated viral DNA genomes. One of the main mechanisms of this latency is absence of Tat transactivation of the LTR promoter. The recent focus post development of efficient highly active antiviral therapy (HAART), is the cure of the reservoir of latently infected cells. One of the obstacles for this type of studies is the lack of proper primate lentivirus prototypes incapable of undergoing latency as extreme infection model in the evaluation. We hypothesized that a replication-competent SHIV genome driven by the Tat-independent constitutive-expression LTRs of CAEV will be a valuable tool for such studies. We designed chimeric CAEV LTRs bearing the attachment sequences of SIV at their extremities and used them to drive the complete genome of SHIV-KU2. The resulting construct is SHIV-YCC which is expected to generate virus that will not undergo latency due to absence of Tat. We found that cells transfected with SHIV-YCC genome produce SHIV proteins that are assembled into infectious particles released out of the cells. Virions are able to infect target CD4+ T cells both in primary PBMCs and cell lines. Passaged virus in macaques PBMCs increased virus replication and infectivity. SHIV-YCC is the first chimeric primate replication-competent lentivirus that constitutively expresses all viral proteins. This new model offers the possibility of studying the early events by which provirus undergoes latency particularly when the envelop gene will be replaced with that of the T/F CCR5 tropic HIV-1.
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Deepanwita Bose. Tat-independent lentivirus genomes for vaccination and host/pathogen interaction studies. Human health and pathology. Université Grenoble Alpes, 2017. English. ⟨NNT : 2017GREAV009⟩. ⟨tel-01938074⟩

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