We have previously demonstrated that multiple immunizations with vector-based vaccines containing transgenes for tumor Ags and a triad of costimulatory molecules (TRICOM) enhance the expansion and functional avidity of Ag-specific memory CD8+ T cells in a mouse model. However, the effect of enhanced costimulation on human memory CD8+ T cells is still unclear. The study reported here was an in vitro investigation of the proliferation and function of CEA-specific human memory CD8+ T cells following enhanced costimulation. Our results demonstrated that TRICOM costimulation enhanced production of multiple cytokines and expansion of CEA-specific memory CD8+ T cells. The lytic capacity of memory CTLs toward CEA+ tumors was also significantly enhanced. IL-2Ralpha (CD25) was upregulated dramatically following APC-TRICOM stimulation, suggesting that the enhanced expansion of memory CD8+ T cells may be mediated by increased expression of IL-2R on memory T cells. The enhanced cytokine production and proliferation following TRICOM signaling was completely blocked by the combination of neutralizing Abs against B7-1, ICAM-1, and LFA-3, the costimulatory molecules comprising TRICOM. No difference in T-cell apoptosis was observed between APC-TRICOM and APC-wild-type groups, as determined by annexin V, Bcl-2, and active caspase-3 staining. Results indicated that enhanced costimulation greatly expanded human CEA-specific CD8+ T cells and enhanced T-cell function, without inducing increased apoptosis of CEA-specific memory CD8+ T cells. Identification of tumor antigens is essential in advancing immune-based therapeutic interventions in cancer. Particularly attractive targets are those molecules that are selectively expressed by malignant cells and that are also essential for tumor progression. We have used a computer-based differential display analysis tool for mining of expressed sequence tag clusters in the human Unigene database and identified Brachyury as a novel tumor antigen. Brachyury, a member of theT-box transcription factor family, is a key player in mesoderm specification during embryonic development. Moreover, transcription factors that control mesoderm have been implicated in the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), which has been postulated to be a key step during tumor progression to metastasis. Reverse transcription-PCR analysis validated the in silico predictions and showed Brachyury expression in tumors of the small intestine, stomach, kidney, bladder, uterus, ovary, and testis, as well as in cell lines derived from lung, colon, and prostate carcinomas, but not in the vast majority of the normal tissues tested. An HLA-A0201epitope of human Brachyury was identified that was able to expand T lymphocytes from blood of cancer patients and normal donors with the ability to lyse Brachyury-expressing tumor cells. To our knowledge, this is the first demonstration that (a) a T-box transcription factor and (b) a molecule implicated in mesodermal development, i.e., EMT, can be a potential target for human T-cell-mediated cancer immunotherapy. Metastatic disease is responsible for the majority of human cancer deaths. Understanding the molecular mechanisms of metastasis is a major step in designing effective cancer therapeutics. Here we show that the T-box transcription factor Brachyury induces in tumor cells epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), an important step in the progression of primary tumors toward metastasis. Overexpression of Brachyury in human carcinoma cells induced changes characteristic of EMT, including upregulation of mesenchymal markers, downregulation of epithelial markers, and an increase in cell migration and invasion. Brachyury overexpression also repressed E-cadherin transcription, an effect partially mediated by Slug. Conversely, inhibition of Brachyury resulted in downregulation of mesenchymal markers and loss of cell migration and invasion and diminished the ability of human tumor cells to form lung metastases in a xenograft model. Furthermore, we found Brachyury to be overexpressed in various human tumor tissues and tumor cell lines compared with normal tissues. We also determined that the percentage of human lung tumor tissues positive for Brachyury expression increased with the stage of the tumor, indicating a potential association between Brachyury and tumor progression. The selective expression of Brachyury in tumor cells and its role in EMT and cancer progression suggest that Brachyury may be an attractive target for antitumor therapies. We compared the effects of yeast-treated human dendritic cells (DCs) with CD40L-matured human DCs for the induction of effector cells and the number and functionality of CD4+CD25+CD127-FoxP3+ regulatory T cells (Tregs). DCs were treated with yeast or CD40L and cocultured with isolated autologous CD4+ T cells. CD4+CD25+CD127- T cells isolated from the coculture of CD4+ T cells plus yeast-treated DCs (yeast coculture) had a lower expression of FoxP3 and decreased suppressive function compared to CD4+CD25+CD127- T cells isolated from the coculture of CD4+ T cells plus CD40L-treated DCs (CD40L coculture). Also, compared to the CD40L coculture, the yeast coculture showed increases in the ratio of CD4+CD25+ activated T cells to Tregs and in the production of Th1-related cytokines (IL-2, TNF-alpha, IFN-gamma) and IL-6. In addition, yeast-treated DCs used as antigen-presenting cells (APCs) incubated with the tumor antigen CEA enhanced the proliferation of CEA-specific CD4+ T cells compared to the use of CD40L-matured DCs used as APCs. This is the first study to report on the role of yeast-treated/matured human DCs in reducing Treg frequency and functionality and in enhancing effector to Treg ratios. These results provide an additional rationale for the use of yeast as a vector in cancer vaccines. IL-12 is a potent antitumor cytokine that exhibits significant clinical toxicities after systemic administration. We hypothesized that intratumoral (i.t.) administration of IL-12 coformulated with the biodegradable polysaccharide chitosan could enhance the antitumor activity of IL-12 while limiting its systemic toxicity. Noninvasive imaging studies monitored local retention of IL-12, with and without chitosan coformulation, after i.t. injection. Antitumor efficacy of IL-12 alone and IL-12 coformulated with chitosan (chitosan/IL-12) was assessed in mice bearing established colorectal (MC32a) and pancreatic (Panc02) tumors. Additional studies involving depletion of immune cell subsets, tumor rechallenge, and CTL activity were designed to elucidate mechanisms of regression and tumor-specific immunity. Coformulation with chitosan increased local IL-12 retention from 1 to 2 days to 5 to 6 days. Weekly i.t. injections of IL-12 alone eradicated less than or equal to 10% of established MC32a and Panc02 tumors, while i.t. chitosan/IL-12 immunotherapy caused complete tumor regression in 80% to 100% of mice. Depletion of CD4+ or Gr-1+ cells had no impact on chitosan/IL-12-mediated tumor regression. However, CD8+ or NK cell depletion completely abrogated antitumor activity. I.t. chitosan/IL-12 immunotherapy generated systemic tumor-specific immunity, as >80% of mice cured with i.t. chitosan/IL-12 immunotherapy were at least partially protected from tumor rechallenge. Furthermore, CTLs from spleens of cured mice lysed MC32a and gp70 peptide-loaded targets. Chitosan/IL-12 immunotherapy increased local retention of IL-12 in the tumor microenvironment, eradicated established, aggressive murine tumors, and generated systemic tumor-specific protective immunity. Chitosan/IL-12 is a well-tolerated, effective immunotherapy with considerable potential for clinical translation.

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