Prime-boost with alternating DNA vaccines designed to engage different antigen presentation pathways generates high frequencies of peptide-specific CD8+ T cells

Joanna N Radcliffe, Joanne S Roddick, Peter S Friedmann, Freda K Stevenson, Stephen M Thirdborough
Journal of Immunology 2006 November 15, 177 (10): 6626-33
The route for presentation of Ag to CD8+ or CD4+ T cells following DNA vaccination is critical for determining outcome, but the pathways involved are unclear. In this study, we compare two different DNA vaccine designs aimed to elicit CD8+ T cell responses against a specific peptide-epitope either by direct- or cross-presentation. Each carries sequences from tetanus toxin (TT) to provide essential CD4+ T cell help. In the first already proven design, the peptide-epitope is fused to the N-terminal domain of fragment C from TT. This appears to act mainly by cross-presentation. In the second design, the peptide-epitope is encoded by a minigene, with induction of Th responses mediated by coexpression of a hybrid invariant chain molecule, incorporating a single determinant from TT (p30) in exchange for class II-associated invariant chain peptide. This design appears to act mainly via direct presentation from transfected APCs. Both vaccines mediated Th-dependent priming of CD8+ T cells in mice, but the kinetics and level of the responses differed markedly, consistent with engagement of distinct pathways of Ag presentation. Importantly, the vaccines could be combined in an alternating prime-boost regime, in either order, generating substantially expanded memory CD8+ T cells, with potent effector function. Taken together, these results demonstrate that vaccination protocols involving different modes of Ag presentation at prime and boost can significantly improve the effectiveness of immunization.

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