Bovine herpesvirus-1 (BHV-1) is an underlying factor in cattle industry economic losses. Improvements in vaccine cost, safety and effectiveness could be seen with the development of a successful DNA vaccine for BHV-1. In this work, we test the hypothesis that a more robust response could be obtained by engineering a DNA vaccine so that a cationic beta-defensin peptide is expressed with the BHV-1 antigen to target and attract immature dendritic cells (iDCs).
In vitro, my project includes screening synthesized bovine beta-defensin peptides for chemotactic and immunomodulatory activity toward iDCs. Cattle vaccinated with DNA encoding the most chemotactic peptide will be used to determine the in vivo effects on immune responses. It is hoped that the results of the study will contribute to development of an effective BHV-1 DNA vaccine for cattle.