A mechanistic study of immune system activation by fusion of antigens with the ligand-binding domain of CTLA4


Fusion proteins consisting of the ligand-binding domain of CTLA4 covalently attached to an antigen (Ag) are potent immunogens. This fusion strategy effectively induces Ag-specific immunity both when introduced as a DNA-based vaccine and as a recombinant protein. CTLA4 is a ligand for B7 molecules expressed on the surface of antigen-presenting cells (APCs), and this interaction is critical for the fusion protein to stimulate Ag-specific immunity. We show that interaction of the fusion protein with either B7-1 or B7-2 is sufficient to stimulate immune activity, and that T cells are essential for the development of IgG responses. In addition, we demonstrate that human dendritic cells (DCs) pulsed with CTLA4-Ag fusion proteins can efficiently present Ag to T cells and induce an Ag-specific immune response in vitro. These studies provide further mechanistic understanding of the process by which CTLA4-Ag fusion proteins stimulate the immune system, and represent an efficient means of generating Ag-specific T cells for immunotherapy.

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