Enhancement of MHC-I antigen presentation via architectural control of pH-responsive, endosomolytic polymer nanoparticles

John T. Wilson, Almar Postma, Salka Keller, Anthony J. Convertine, Graeme Moad, Ezio Rizzardo, Laurence Meagher, John Chiefari, Patrick S. Stayton

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42 Citations (Scopus)


Protein-based vaccines offer a number of important advantages over organism-based vaccines but generally elicit poor CD8+ T cell responses. We have previously demonstrated that pH-responsive, endosomolytic polymers can enhance protein antigen delivery to major histocompatibility complex class I (MHC-I) antigen presentation pathways thereby augmenting CD8+ T cell responses following immunization. Here, we describe a new family of nanocarriers for protein antigen delivery assembled using architecturally distinct pH-responsive polymers. Reversible addition-fragmentation chain transfer (RAFT) polymerization was used to synthesize linear, hyperbranched, and core-crosslinked copolymers of 2-(N,N-diethylamino)ethyl methacrylate (DEAEMA) and butyl methacrylate (BMA) that were subsequently chain extended with a hydrophilic N,N-dimethylacrylamide (DMA) segment copolymerized with thiol-reactive pyridyl disulfide (PDS) groups. In aqueous solution, polymer chains assembled into 25 nm micellar nanoparticles and enabled efficient and reducible conjugation of a thiolated protein antigen, ovalbumin. Polymers demonstrated pH-dependent membrane-destabilizing activity in an erythrocyte lysis assay, with the hyperbranched and cross-linked polymer architectures exhibiting significantly higher hemolysis at pH ≤ 7.0 than the linear diblock. Antigen delivery with the hyperbranched and cross-linked polymer architecture enhanced in vitro MHC-I antigen presentation relative to free antigen, whereas the linear construct did not have a discernible effect. The hyperbranched system elicited a four- to fivefold increase in MHC-I presentation relative to the cross-linked architecture, demonstrating the superior capacity of the hyperbranched architecture in enhancing MHC-I presentation. This work demonstrates that the architecture of pH-responsive, endosomolytic polymers can have dramatic effects on intracellular antigen delivery, and offers a promising strategy for enhancing CD8+ T cell responses to protein-based vaccines.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)358-369
Number of pages12
JournalThe AAPS Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2015
Externally publishedYes

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