BACKGROUNDHuman cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection is an important risk factor in the post-transplant (Tx) recovery phase for both hematopoietic stem cell Tx (HSCT) and solid organ Tx (SOT) recipients. CMV infection may be prevented or controlled by simultaneously inducing both CMV-specific neutralizing antibody (nAb) and cellular immunity. Soluble (s) UL55 (surface glycoprotein), UL83 (tegument protein) and UL123/e4 (nuclear protein) are immunodominant in eliciting both CMV nAb and cellular immunity. An attenuated poxvirus, modified vaccinia Ankara (MVA) was selected to develop this vaccine strategy in Tx recipients, because of its clinical safety record, large foreign gene capacity, and capability to activate strong humoral and cellular immune responses against recombinant antigens.OBJECTIVESA subunit vaccine that targets multiple CMV antigens will be used to gain maximal coverage and protective function against CMV infection. rMVA simultaneously expressing sUL55, UL83 and UL123/e4 will be generated, and humoral and cellular immunity it elicits will be characterized, after murine immunization and in vitro to amplify clinical recall responses.STUDY DESIGNrMVA will be constructed in two steps using UL123/e4-pLW22 followed by sUL55-UL83-pLW51 transfer plasmids. Western blots will be used to characterize expression levels of each antigen. Primary immunity will be evaluated in mouse models, while recall responses to the virally expressed CMV antigens will be assessed in human peripheral blood.RESULTSWe generated CMV-MVA via homologous recombination, and demonstrated high expression levels of sUL55, UL83 and UL123/e4 by Western blot. CMV-MVA immunization potently induced both humoral and cellular immunity to sUL55, UL83 and UL123 after murine immunization, and cellular immunity to UL83 and UL123 by in vitro amplification of T cell recall responses in human PBMC.CONCLUSIONSrMVA promotes high level expression of three immunodominant CMV antigens, which is reflected in results of immunization studies in which high titers of UL55-specific antibodies and CD4+ T-help are detected, as well as high levels of UL83-specific and moderate levels of UL123-specific CD8+ CTL.