DNA fusion gene vaccination mobilizes effective anti-leukemic cytotoxic T lymphocytes from a tolerized repertoire

Jason Rice, Michelle L Dossett, Claes Ohlén, Sarah L Buchan, Timothy J Kendall, Stuart N Dunn, Freda K Stevenson, Philip D Greenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The majority of known human tumor-associated antigens derive from non-mutated self proteins. T cell tolerance, essential to prevent autoimmunity, must therefore be cautiously circumvented to generate cytotoxic T cell responses against these targets. Our strategy uses DNA fusion vaccines to activate high levels of peptide-specific CTL. Key foreign sequences from tetanus toxin activate tolerance-breaking CD4(+) T cell help. Candidate MHC class I-binding tumor peptide sequences are fused to the C terminus for optimal processing and presentation. To model performance against a leukemia-associated antigen in a tolerized setting, we constructed a fusion vaccine encoding an immunodominant CTL epitope derived from Friend murine leukemia virus gag protein (FMuLV(gag)) and vaccinated tolerant FMuLV(gag)-transgenic (gag-Tg) mice. Vaccination with the construct induced epitope-specific IFN-gamma-producing CD8(+) T cells in normal and gag-Tg mice. The frequency and avidity of activated cells were reduced in gag-Tg mice, and no autoimmune injury resulted. However, these CD8(+) T cells did exhibit gag-specific cytotoxicity in vitro and in vivo. Also, epitope-specific CTL killed FBL-3 leukemia cells expressing endogenous FMuLV(gag) antigen and protected against leukemia challenge in vivo. These results demonstrate a simple strategy to engage anti-microbial T cell help to activate epitope-specific polyclonal CD8(+) T cell responses from a residual tolerized repertoire.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2118-30
Number of pages13
JournalEuropean Journal of Immunology
Volume38
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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