Enhanced protective efficacy of H5 subtype avian influenza DNA vaccine with codon optimized HA gene in a pCAGGS plasmid vector.Antiviral Res. 2007 Sep; 75(3):234-41.AR
H5N1 influenza viruses have caused significant disease and deaths in various parts of the world in several species, including humans. Vaccination combined with culling can provide an attractive method for outbreak containment. Using synthesized oligos and overlapping extension PCR techniques, we constructed an H5 HA gene, optiHA, containing chicken biased codons based on the HA amino acid sequence of the highly pathogenic H5N1 virus A/goose/Guangdong/1/96 (GS/GD/96). The optiHA and wild-type HA genes were inserted into plasmids pCI or pCAGGS, and designated as pCIoptiHA, pCAGGoptiHA, pCIHA and pCAGGHA, respectively. To evaluate vaccine efficacy, groups of 3-week-old specific pathogen free (SPF) chickens were intramuscularly injected with the four plasmids. Sera were collected on a weekly basis post-vaccination (p.v.) for hemagglutination inhibition (HI) assays and neutralization (NT) antibody detection. All chickens receiving pCAGGoptiHA and pCAGGHA developed high levels of HI and NT antibodies at 3 weeks p.v., and were completely protected from lethal H5 virus challenge, while only partial protection was induced by inoculation with the other two plasmids. A second experiment was conducted to evaluate if a lower dose of the pCAGGoptiHA vaccine could be effective, results indicated that two doses of 10 microg of pCAGGoptiHA could induce complete protection in chickens against H5 lethal virus challenge. Based on our results, we conclude that construction optimization could dramatically increase the H5 HA gene DNA vaccine efficacy in chickens, and therefore, greatly decrease the dose necessary for inducing complete protection in chickens.