An effective vaccine against the human immunodeficiency virus should be capable of eliciting both an antibody and a cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) response. However, when viral proteins and peptides are formulated with traditional immunological adjuvants and inoculated via a route acceptable for use in humans, they have not been successful at eliciting virus-specific, major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I-restricted CTL. We have designed a novel viral subunit vaccine by encapsulating a previously defined synthetic peptide CTL epitope of the simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) gag protein within a proteoliposome capable of attaching to and fusing with plasma membranes. Upon fusing, the encapsulated contents of this proteoliposome can enter the MHC class I processing pathway through the cytoplasm. In this report, we show that after a single intramuscular vaccination, rhesus monkeys develop a CD8+ cell-mediated, MHC class I-restricted CTL response that recognizes the synthetic peptide immunogen. The induced CTL also demonstrate antiviral immunity by recognizing SIV gag protein endogenously processed by target cells infected with SIV/vaccinia recombinant virus. These results demonstrate that virus-specific, MHC class I-restricted, CD8+ CTL can be elicited by a safe, nonreplicating viral subunit vaccine in a primate model for acquired immune deficiency syndrome. Moreover, the proteoliposome vaccine formation described can include multiple synthetic peptide epitopes, and, thus, offers a simple means of generating antiviral cell-mediated immunity in a genetically heterogeneous population.

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