A CD8+ T cell heptaepitope minigene vaccine induces protective immunity against Chlamydia pneumoniae

Irina Pinchuk, Barry C Starcher, Brian Livingston, Amy Tvninnereim, Shiping Wu, Ettore Appella, John Sidney, Alessandro Sette, Benjamin Wizel
Journal of Immunology 2005 May 1, 174 (9): 5729-39
An intact T cell compartment and IFN-gamma signaling are required for protective immunity against Chlamydia. In the mouse model of Chlamydia pneumoniae (Cpn) infection, this immunity is critically dependent on CD8(+) T cells. Recently we reported that Cpn-infected mice generate an MHC class I-restricted CD8(+) Tc1 response against various Cpn Ags, and that CD8(+) CTL to multiple epitopes inhibit Cpn growth in vitro. Here, we engineered a DNA minigene encoding seven H-2(b)-restricted Cpn CTL epitopes, the universal pan-DR epitope Th epitope, and an endoplasmic reticulum-translocating signal sequence. Immunization of C57BL/6 mice with this construct primed IFN-gamma-producing CD8(+) CTL against all seven CTL epitopes. CD8(+) T cell lines generated to minigene-encoded CTL epitopes secreted IFN-gamma and TNF-alpha and exhibited CTL activity upon recognition of Cpn-infected macrophages. Following intranasal challenge with Cpn, a 3.6 log reduction in mean lung bacterial numbers compared with control animals was obtained. Using a 20-fold increase in the Cpn challenging dose, minigene-vaccinated mice had a 60-fold reduction in lung bacterial loads, compared with controls. Immunization and challenge studies with beta(2)-microglobulin(-/-) mice indicated that the reduction of lung Cpn burdens was mediated by the MHC class I-dependent CD8(+) T cells to minigene-included Cpn CTL epitopes, rather than by pan-DR epitope-specific CD4(+) T cells. This constitutes the first demonstration of significant protection achieved by immunization with a CD8(+) T cell epitope-based DNA construct in a bacterial system and provides the basis for the optimal design of multicomponent anti-Cpn vaccines for humans.

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