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Virally vectored cancer vaccines comprise a new form of immunotherapy that aim to generate anti-tumor immune responses with potential for tumor clearance and enhanced patient survival. Here, we compared 2 replication-deficient poxviruses modified vaccinia Ankara (MVA) and ALVAC(2) in their ability to induce antigen expression and immunogenicity of the tumor-associated antigens (TAAs) 5T4 and gp100. To facilitate the comparison, recombinant MVA-gp100M and ALVAC(2)-5T4 were constructed to complement existing ALVAC(2)-gp100M and MVA-5T4 vectors. Recombinant TAA expression in chicken embryo fibroblast cells was confirmed by Western blot analysis. 5T4 expression was approximately equal for both viruses, whereas ALVAC-derived gp100 was quickly degraded, at a time point when MVA-derived gp100 was still stable and expressed at high levels. Human leukocyte antigen-A2 transgenic mice were vaccinated with recombinant viruses and the CD8 T-cell responses elicited against each TAA were monitored by interferon-[gamma] enzyme-linked immunospot. No 5T4 peptide responses were detected using splenocytes from mice vaccinated with either vector, whereas vaccination with MVA elicited a significantly higher gp100-specific response than ALVAC(2) at 106 PFU (P<0.001). In CD-1 mice, each vector elicited similar 5T4 antibody responses, whereas MVA was more potent and induced gp100 antibody responses at a lower immunization dose than ALVAC (P<0.001). In this study, immunogenicity varied depending on the viral vector used and reflected vector-associated differences in in vitro TAA expression and stability. These findings suggest that novel vector-transgene combinations must be assessed individually when designing vaccines, and that stability of vector-encoded proteins produced in vitro may be useful as a predictor for in vitro immunogenicity.

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