Transduction of human dendritic cells with a recombinant modified vaccinia Ankara virus encoding MUC1 and IL-2
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The epithelial mucin MUC1 is considered an opportune target antigen for cancer immunotherapy, as it is over-expressed and exhibits aberrant glycosylation in malignant cells. Because dendritic cells (DC) are powerful initiators of immune responses, efforts have focused on tumor antigen-bearing DC as potent cancer vaccines. In this study we have characterized the transduction of monocyte-derived DC with a highly attenuated vaccinia virus vector [modified vaccinia Ankara (MVA)] encoding human MUC1 and the immunostimulatory cytokine IL-2. Analysis of transduced DC cultures generated from a number of donors revealed MUC1 expression in the range of 27–54% of the cells and a co-regulated secretion of bioactive IL-2. As shown by FACS analysis with MUC1-specific antibodies, the MVA-MUC1/IL-2-transduced DC predominantly expressed the fully processed glycoform of MUC1, typical of that displayed by normal epithelia. Over a 3-day period after transduction, transgene expression declined concurrent with an increase in MVA-induced cytopathic effects. The transduced DC stimulated allogeneic lymphocyte proliferation, indicating that DC immunostimulatory function is not impaired by vector transduction. In the presence of IL-2, MVA-transduced DC were able to enhance autologous lymphocyte proliferation. Also, vector expression was analyzed in DC cultures treated with TNF-α, a known DC maturation factor. As indicated by the up-regulation of several DC maturation markers, neither virus infection nor transgene expression influenced the maturation capacity of the cells. The MVA-MUC1/IL-2 vector effectively transduced both immature and TNF-α-matured DC. Overall, our results are encouraging for the clinical application of MVA-MUC1/IL-2-transduced DC.
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