Protein-based vaccines offer safety and cost advantages but require adjuvants to induce immunity. Here we examined the adjuvant capacity of glucopyranosyl lipid A (GLA), a new synthetic non-toxic analogue of lipopolysaccharide. In mice, in comparison with non-formulated LPS and monophosphoryl lipid A, formulated GLA induced higher antibody titers and generated Type 1 T-cell responses to HIV gag-p24 protein in spleen and lymph nodes, which was dependent on TLR4 expression. Immunization was greatly improved by targeting HIV gag p24 to DCs with an antibody to DEC-205, a DC receptor for antigen uptake and processing. Subcutaneous immunization induced antigen-specific T-cell responses in the intestinal lamina propria. Immunity did not develop in mice transiently depleted of DCs. To understand how GLA works, we studied DCs directly from vaccinated mice. Within 4 h, GLA caused DCs to upregulate CD86 and CD40 and produce cytokines including IL-12p70 in vivo. Importantly, DCs removed from mice 4 h after vaccination became immunogenic, capable of inducing T-cell immunity upon injection into naïve mice. These data indicate that a synthetic and clinically feasible TLR4 agonist rapidly stimulates full maturation of DCs in vivo, allowing for adaptive immunity to develop many weeks to months later.
Early events in atherosclerosis occur in the aortic intima and involve monocytes that become macrophages. We looked for these cells in the steady state adult mouse aorta, and surprisingly, we found a dominance of dendritic cells (DCs) in the intima. In contrast to aortic adventitial macrophages, CD11c(+)MHC II(hi) DCs were poorly phagocytic but were immune stimulatory. DCs were of two types primarily: classical Flt3-Flt3L signaling-dependent, CD103(+)CD11b(-) DCs and macrophage-colony stimulating factor (M-CSF)-dependent, CD14(+)CD11b(+)DC-SIGN(+) monocyte-derived DCs. Both types expanded during atherosclerosis. By crossing Flt3(-/-) to Ldlr(-/-) atherosclerosis-prone mice, we developed a selective and marked deficiency of classical CD103(+) aortic DCs, and they were associated with exacerbated atherosclerosis without alterations in blood lipids. Concomitantly, the Flt3(-/-)Ldlr(-/-) mice had fewer Foxp3(+) Treg cells and increased inflammatory cytokine mRNAs in the aorta. Therefore, functional DCs are dominant in normal aortic intima and, in contrast to macrophages, CD103(+) classical DCs are associated with atherosclerosis protection.
Protein vaccines for T-cell immunity are not being prioritized because of poor immunogenicity. To overcome this hurdle, proteins are being targeted to maturing dendritic cells (DCs) within monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) to DC receptors. To extend the concept to humans, we immunized human immunoglobulin-expressing mice with human DEC205 (hDEC205) extracellular domain. 3D6 and 3G9 mAbs were selected for high-affinity binding to hDEC205. In addition, CD11c promoter hDEC205 transgenic mice were generated, and 3G9 was selectively targeted to DCs in these animals. When mAb heavy chain was engineered to express HIV Gag p24, the fusion mAb induced interferon-?- and interleukin-2-producing CD4(+) T cells in hDEC205 transgenic mice, if polynocinic polycytidylic acid was coadministered as an adjuvant. The T-cell response was broad, recognizing at least 3 Gag peptides, and high titers of anti-human immunoglobulin G antibody were made. Anti-hDEC205 also improved the cross-presentation of Gag to primed CD8(+) T cells from HIV-infected individuals. In all tests, 3D6 and 3G9 targeting greatly enhanced immunization relative to nonbinding control mAb. These results provide preclinical evidence that in vivo hDEC205 targeting increases the efficiency with which proteins elicit specific immunity, setting the stage for proof-of-concept studies of these new protein vaccines in human subjects.
Dendritic cells (DCs), critical antigen-presenting cells for immune control, normally derive from bone marrow precursors distinct from monocytes. It is not yet established if the large reservoir of monocytes can develop into cells with critical features of DCs in vivo. We now show that fully differentiated monocyte-derived DCs (Mo-DCs) develop in mice and DC-SIGN/CD209a marks the cells. Mo-DCs are recruited from blood monocytes into lymph nodes by lipopolysaccharide and live or dead gram-negative bacteria. Mobilization requires TLR4 and its CD14 coreceptor and Trif. When tested for antigen-presenting function, Mo-DCs are as active as classical DCs, including cross-presentation of proteins and live gram-negative bacteria on MHC I in vivo. Fully differentiated Mo-DCs acquire DC morphology and localize to T cell areas via L-selectin and CCR7. Thus the blood monocyte reservoir becomes the dominant presenting cell in response to select microbes, yielding DC-SIGN(+) cells with critical functions of DCs.
Mouse DC-SIGN CD209a is a type II transmembrane protein, one of a family of C-type lectin genes syntenic and homologous to human DC-SIGN. Current anti-mouse DC-SIGN monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) are unable to react with DC-SIGN in acetone-fixed cells, limiting the chance to visualize DC-SIGN in tissue sections. We first produced rabbit polyclonal PAb-DSCYT14 against a 14-aa peptide in the cytosolic domain of mouse DC-SIGN, and it specifically detected DC-SIGN and not the related lectins, SIGN-R1 and SIGN-R3 expressed in transfected CHO cells. MAbs were generated by immunizing rats and DC-SIGN knockout mice with the extracellular region of mouse DC-SIGN. Five rat IgG2a or IgM MAbs, named BMD10, 11, 24, 25, and 30, were selected and each MAb specifically detected DC-SIGN by FACS and Western blots, although BMD25 was cross-reactive to SIGN-R1. Two mouse IgG2c MAbs MMD2 and MMD3 interestingly bound mouse DC-SIGN but at 10 fold higher levels than the rat MAbs. When the binding epitopes of the new BMD and two other commercial rat anti-DC-SIGN MAbs, 5H10 and LWC06, were examined by competition assays, the epitopes of BMD11, 24, and LWC06 were identical or closely overlapping while BMD10, 30, and 5H10 were shown to bind different epitopes. MMD2 and MMD3 epitopes were on a 3rd noncompeting region of mouse DC-SIGN. DC-SIGN expressed on the cell surface was sensitive to collagenase treatment, as monitored by polyclonal and MAb. These new reagents should be helpful to probe the biology of DC-SIGN in vivo.
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