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Keywords:

  • ICP47;
  • vaccinia virus;
  • viral vectors;
  • cancer vaccines

Abstract

Herpes simplex virus protein ICP47, encoded by US12 gene, strongly downregulates major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class-I antigen restricted presentation by blocking transporter associated with antigen processing (TAP) protein. To decrease viral vector antigenic immunodominance and MHC class-I driven clearance, we engineered recombinant vaccinia viruses (rVV) expressing ICP47 alone (rVV-US12) or together with endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-targeted Melan-A/MART-127–35 model tumor epitope (rVV-MUS12). In this study, we show that antigen presenting cells (APC), infected with rVV-US12, display a decreased ability to present TAP dependent MHC class-I restricted viral antigens to CD8+ T-cells. While HLA class-I cell surface expression is strongly downregulated, other important immune related molecules such as CD80, CD44 and, most importantly, MHC class-II are unaffected. Characterization of rVV-MUS12 infected cells demonstrates that over-expression of a TAP-independent peptide, partially compensates for ICP47 induced surface MHC class-I downregulation (30% vs. 70% respectively). Most importantly, in conditions where clearance of infected APC by virus-specific CTL represents a limiting factor, a significant enhancement of CTL responses to the tumor epitope can be detected in cultures stimulated with rVV-MUS12, as compared to those stimulated by rVV-MART alone. Such reagents could become of high relevance in multiple boost protocols required for cancer immunotherapy, to limit vector-specific responsiveness.