Enhanced activation of T cells by dendritic cells engineered to hyperexpress a triad of costimulatory molecules

James W. Hodge, Ariel N. Rad, Douglas W. Grosenbach, Helen Sabzevari, Alicia Gómez Yafal, Linda Gritz, Jeffrey Schlom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Activation and proliferation of T cells are essential for a successful cellular immune response to an antigen. Antigen-presenting cells (APCs) activate T cells through a two-signal mechanism. The first signal is antigen specific and causes T cells to enter the cell cycle. The second signal involves a costimulatory molecule that interacts with a ligand on the T-cell surface and leads to T-cell cytokine production and their proliferation. Dendritic cells express several costimulatory molecules and are believed to be the most potent APCs. Two recombinant poxvirus vectors (replication-defective avipox [fowlpox; rF] and a replication-competent vaccinia [rV]) have been engineered to express a triad of costimulatory molecules (B7-1, intercellular adhesion molecule-1, and leukocyte function-associated antigen 3; designated TRICOM). This study was designed to determine if dendritic cells infected with these vectors would have an enhanced capacity to stimulate T-cell responses. Methods: Murine dendritic cells (of both intermediate maturity and full maturity) were infected with rF-TRICOM or rV-TRICOM and were used in vitro to stimulate naive T cells with the use of a pharmacologic agent as signal 1, to stimulate T cells in allospecific mixed lymphocyte cultures, and to stimulate CD8+ T cells specific for a peptide from the ovalbumin (OVA) protein. In addition, dendritic cells infected with TRICOM vectors were pulsed with OVA peptide and used to vaccinate mice to examine T-cell responses in vivo. All statistical tests were two-sided. Results: Dendritic cells infected with either rF-TRICOM or rV-TRICOM were found to greatly enhance naive T-cell activation (P<.001), allogeneic responses of T cells (P<.001), and peptide-specific T-cell stimulation in vitro (P<.001). Peptide-pulsed dendritic cells infected with rF-TRICOM or rV-TRICOM induced cytotoxic T-lymphocyte activity in vivo to a markedly greater extent than peptide-pulsed dendritic cells (P = .001 in both). Conclusions: The ability of dendritic cells to activate both naive and effector T cells in vitro and in vivo can be enhanced with the use of poxvirus vectors that potentiate the hyperexpression of a triad of costimulatory molecules. Use of either rF-TRICOM or rV-TRICOM vectors significantly improved the efficacy of dendritic cells in priming specific immune responses. These studies have implications in vaccine strategies for both cancer and infectious diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1228-1239
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the National Cancer Institute
Issue number15
StatePublished - Aug 2 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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