DNA Minigene Vaccination for Adjuvant Neuroblastoma Therapy


Address for correspondence: Dr. Holger N. Lode, Charité, Otto-Heubner Zentrum für Kinderund Jugendmedizin, Experimentelle Onkologie, Augustenburger Platz 1, 13353 Berlin, Germany. Voice: +49 30 450 559217; fax: +49 30 450 559917. holger.lode@charite.de


Abstract: The disruption of self-tolerance against neuroblastoma is the ultimate goal of an effective DNA-vaccine. We demonstrate the induction of protective immunity against syngeneic murine NXS2 neuroblastoma in A/J mice following vaccination with tyrosine hydroxylase (TH)-derived antigens. Oral gene delivery was accomplished using an attenuated strain of Salmonella typhimurium as a carrier harboring vectors encoding for mouse tyrosine hydroxylase (mTH) antigens. Vaccination was effective in protecting animals from a lethal challenge with wild-type NXS2 tumor cells. These findings were extended by comparing efficacy of mTH minigene vaccines with a minigene vaccine comprising three novel epitopes isolated fom NXS2 neuroblastoma cells. For this purpose, MHC class I was immunoprecipitated from NXS2 cell lysates, and peptides were eluted and examined in tandem-mass spectrometry analysis. This led to the identification of three novel natural MHC class I peptide ligands: TEALPVKLI, from ribonucleotide reductase M2; NEYIMSLI, from Ser/Thr protein phosphatase 2A; and FEMVSTLI, of unknown origin. Two minigenes were constructed, one encoding for the three novel epitopes and the second for three known mTH-derived epitopes with high predicted binding affinity to MHC class I, by cloning them into the mammalian expression vector pCMV-3FUB. Immunized mice showed a reduction in primary tumor growth and the absence of spontaneous liver metastasis in the majority of animals. Importantly, there was no significant difference between the two minigenes, suggesting that, compared with tumor peptide isolation, mTH epitope prediction is similarly effective for designing efficient DNA-minigene vaccines. In summary, these findings establish proof of the concept that disruption of self-tolerance against neuroblastoma-associated epitopes may be an effective adjuvant therapeutic strategy.