High yielding adenovirus (Ad)-hepatitis B recombinant (Ad-Hep B) viruses were prepared by insertion of the hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) gene into the early region 3 (E3 region) of Ad4 or Ad7 vectors containing intact or largely deleted E3 regions. Both E3-deleted and non-deleted recombinants produced about six- to eight-fold higher amounts of HBsAg than previously reported recombinants. These recombinant viruses were evaluated for immunogenicity in dogs which sustain abortive lung infections by Ad4 and Ad7. Recombinants containing E3 deletions elicited 10- to 12-fold stronger anti-HBs primary responses than previously evaluated low yield recombinants. Further immunizations with heterotypic Ad-Hep B recombinants induced substantial anti-HBs booster responses as well as anti-‘a’ epitope responses. In contrast, recombinant viruses containing intact E3 regions induced only weak or negligible anti-HBs responses, although such viruses induced strong antibody responses to the Ad vectors. The immunogenicity of high-yielding Ad recombinants correlated with temporal expression of HBsAg and thus the dog represents a valuable model for evaluation of immune responses to heterologous proteins that are expressed early and that do not require efficient DNA replication. Recombinants expressing HBsAg late in the infectious cycle require further testing in the fully permissive chimpanzee model. This study establishes that the E3-deleted high yield Ad4 and Ad7 recombinants represent promising live oral hepatitis B vaccine candidates.


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