Vaccination against infectious diseases is a major tool for prevention of morbidity and mortality for both veterans and active-duty soldiers. Effective vaccination, similar to the immune response to infection, requires activation of CD4+ helper T cells by professional antigen presenting cells expressing MHC class II-peptide complexes. Most vaccinations are delivered subcutaneously; thus, understanding the regulation of MHC class II- dependent immune responses in the skin will inform the rational design of vaccines. Surprisingly, we found that antigen processing and presentation by both lymphoid- resident and migratory DCs was required for clonal selection and expansion of CD4+ T cells following subcutaneous immunization. Early antigen presentation by lymphoid- resident DCs initiated activation and trapping of antigen-specific T cells in the draining LN, without inducing clonal expansion. Migratory DCs, however, interact with the CD4+ T cells retained in the LN to induce proliferation. Therefore, distinct DC subsets cooperate to alert and trap the appropriate cell and then license its expansion and differentiation. These preliminary results lead to the obvious question: why are two DC populations necessary to prime CD4+ T cells? In the current proposal, we will dissect the cellular and molecular mechanisms that underlie the requirement for two distinct populations of dendritic cells in the response to antigens delivered in the skin. We have three Specific Aims. In our first Aim, we will utilize large antigen-conjugated microspheres to limit antigen presentation to one population of DCs. This will test the hypothesis that antigen presentation restricted to migratory DCs cannot prime naove CD4+ T cells. In our second two Aims, we will examine two alternative explanations for the requirement for both lymphoid-resident and migratory DCs. First, immunofluorescence and molecular techniques will be utilized to dissect the localization of T cells following interaction with lymphoid-resident DCs. We will consider the hypothesis that naove T cells in the LN must change location to permit interaction with antigen-loaded migratory DCs. Finally, we will determine the biochemical setpoint and behavior of CD4+ T cells following priming by lymphoid-resident DCs. Does T cell activation occur in two distinct steps regulated by two different DC populations? Understanding the requirements for activation of CD4+ T cells will guide the development of more effective vaccinations against pathogens that cause significant disease in soldiers and veterans.

Public Health Relevance

Vaccination has been a major mechanism for prevention of soldier morbidity and mortality during training and war. Yet, veterans and their physicians remain concerned about the efficacy and longterm safety of vaccinations delivered either individually, such as anthrax vaccination, or in combination to soldiers. The immune response to both pathogens and vaccinations rely on activation of CD4+ T cells, a white blood cell that orchestrates the immune response. Many vaccines are delivered by injection into the skin. In the current proposal, we show that two different types of white blood cells collaborate to induce CD4+ T cell responses to proteins injected into the skin. We will explore the biologic mechanisms that make this complex pathway necessary. Establishing a better paradigm for the activation of T cells in the skin should guide the development of improved vaccines and improve the health of both soldiers and veterans.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Veterans Affairs (VA)
Non-HHS Research Projects (I01)
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Immunology A (IMMA)
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Philadelphia VA Medical Center
United States
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Barnett, Lisa G; Simkins, Helen M A; Barnett, Burton E et al. (2014) B cell antigen presentation in the initiation of follicular helper T cell and germinal center differentiation. J Immunol 192:3607-17
Barnett, Burton E; Ciocca, Maria L; Goenka, Radhika et al. (2012) Asymmetric B cell division in the germinal center reaction. Science 335:342-4
Goenka, Radhika; Barnett, Lisa G; Silver, Jonathan S et al. (2011) Cutting edge: dendritic cell-restricted antigen presentation initiates the follicular helper T cell program but cannot complete ultimate effector differentiation. J Immunol 187:1091-5