To develop effective vaccines against infection with human T cell leukaemia virus type I (HTLV-I), we constructed a recombinant vaccinia virus (WR-SFB5env) synthesizing the HTLV-I envelope (Env) gp46 protein under the control of a strong promoter, termed the ATI hybrid promoter. WR-SFB5env expressed a large quantity of gp46. In cynomolgus monkeys (Macaca fascicularis) immunized with WR-SFB5env, anti-HTLV-I Env antibody, including neutralizing antibody, was induced and remained at a high level until 136 weeks (2-6 years) post-infection (p.i.). These immunized monkeys had HTLV-I Env-specific cytotoxic T lymphocyte activity. At 136 weeks p.i., the immunized monkeys were challenged with an HTLV-I-producing cynomolgus T lymphocyte cell line. Neither HTLV-I antigen nor HTLV-I proviruses were detected in peripheral blood mononuclear cells, lymph nodes or spleens of the WR-SFB5env-immunized monkeys, in contrast to non-immunized control monkeys. These results indicate that a single immunization with WR-SFB5env induced prolonged humoral and cellular immune responses to HTLV-I and protected the monkeys against virus challenge.


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