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Cancer Res. 2000 Feb 15;60(4):1035-42.

Enhancement of DNA vaccine potency by linkage of antigen gene to an HSP70 gene.

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  • 1Department of Oncology, The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, Baltimore, Maryland 21287, USA.


Nucleic acid vaccines represent an attractive approach to generating antigen-specific immunity because of their stability and simplicity of delivery. However, there is still a need to increase the potency of DNA vaccines. Using human papillomavirus type 16 E7 as a model antigen, we evaluated the effect of linkage to Mycobacterium tuberculosis heat shock protein 70 (HSP70) on the potency of antigen-specific immunity generated by naked DNA vaccines. We found that vaccines containing E7-HSP70 fusion genes increased the frequency of E7-specific CD8+ T cells by at least 30-fold relative to vaccines containing the wild-type E7 gene. More importantly, this fusion converted a less effective vaccine into one with significant potency against established E7-expressing tumors. Surprisingly, E7-HSP70 fusion vaccines exclusively targeted CD8+ T cells; immunological and antitumor effects were completely CD4-independent. These results indicate that fusion of HSP70 to an antigen gene may greatly enhance the potency of DNA vaccines via CD8-dependent pathways.

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