Glycolipid-peptide conjugate vaccines enhance CD8+ T cell responses against human viral proteins

M. Speir, A. Authier-Hall, C. R. Brooks, K. J. Farrand, B. J. Compton, R. J. Anderson, A. Heiser, T. L. Osmond, C. W. Tang, J. A. Berzofsky, M. Terabe, G. F. Painter, I. F. Hermans, R. Weinkove

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16 Citations (Scopus)


An important goal of vaccination against viruses and virus-driven cancers is to elicit cytotoxic CD8+ T cells specific for virus-derived peptides. CD8+ T cell responses can be enhanced by engaging help from natural killer T (NKT) cells. We have produced synthetic vaccines that induce strong peptide-specific CD8+ T cell responses in vivo by incorporating an NKT cell-activating glycolipid. Here we examine the effect of a glycolipid-peptide conjugate vaccine incorporating an NKT cell-activating glycolipid linked to an MHC class I-restricted peptide from a viral antigen in human peripheral blood mononuclear cells. The vaccine induces CD1d-dependent activation of human NKT cells following enzymatic cleavage, activates human dendritic cells in an NKT-cell dependent manner, and generates a pool of activated antigen-specific CD8+ T cells with cytotoxic potential. Compared to unconjugated peptide, the vaccine upregulates expression of genes encoding interferon-γ, CD137 and granzyme B. A similar vaccine incorporating a peptide from the clinically-relevant human papilloma virus (HPV) 16 E7 oncoprotein induces cytotoxicity against peptide-expressing targets in vivo, and elicits a better antitumor response in a model of E7-expressing lung cancer than its unconjugated components. Glycolipid-peptide conjugate vaccines may prove useful for the prevention or treatment of viral infections and tumors that express viral antigens.

Original languageEnglish
Article number14273
Number of pages12
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017
Externally publishedYes

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