As dendritic cells (DCs) have pre-eminent responsibility for inducing T cell-mediated immunity, the targeting of vaccines to DCs in vivo is intuitively obvious in the setting of cancer. Heat shock protein hsp70 (hsp70) binds to both antigen (Ag)-uptake and signaling receptors on DCs and may serve as a DC targeting molecule capable of improving the efficacy of vaccines. The longevity of activated Ag-bearing DCs in lymphoid tissues is also an important issue germane to the induction of specific immunity. Prolonging Ag-bearing DC survival in vivo may potentiate the potency of DNA vaccines. We have recently demonstrated that fusion proteins composed of tumor Ag and hsp70 (Aghsp70) that are encoded in DNA vaccines induce significant anti-tumor immunity. Furthermore, the efficacy of these vaccines was augmented by prolonging DC survival via the delivery of the 'survival gene' Bcl-xl. We hypothesize that: 1) the in vivo targeting of Aghsp70 to DCs stimulates DC activation and induces T cell-mediated immunity and 2) that the prolongation of Aghsp70-bearing DC survival greatly improves the magnitude and quality of Ag-specific-T cell responses, resulting in potent clinical benefit. To test this hypothesis, we will pursue three specific aims:
Specific Aim 1 : Test whether OVAhsp70 proteins activate DCs via combined TLR4/CD40 triggering and enhance DC Ag-presenting capacity via CD91/CD40/LOX-1 receptor-mediated Ag-uptake, resulting in the induction of potent OVA-specific-T cell responses;
Specific Aim 2 : Test whether strong and sustained OVA-specific-T cell responses can be induced by the in vivo prolongation of OVAhsp70-bearing DC survival resulting from DNA vaccination;
Specific Aim 3 : Evaluate the efficacy of anti-tumor immunity induced by the In Vivo Targeted Vaccines. Experimental results obtained from these studies will be important in helping to optimize future tumor vaccine designs and provide additional insight into DC immunobiology. ? ?

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Research Project (R01)
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Cancer Immunopathology and Immunotherapy Study Section (CII)
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Welch, Anthony R
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University of Pittsburgh
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