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J Immunol. 2001 Mar 1;166(5):3061-6.

The roles of MHC class II, CD40, and B7 costimulation in CTL induction by plasmid DNA.

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Department of Medicine and The Sam and Rose Stein Institute for Research on Aging, University of California at San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA.


DNA-based vaccines generate potent CTL responses. The mechanism of T cell stimulation has been attributed to plasmid-transfected dendritic cells. These cells have also been shown to express plasmid-encoded proteins and to become activated by surface marker up-regulation. However, the increased surface expression of CD40 and B7 on these dendritic cells is insufficient to overcome the need for MHC class II-restricted CD4(+) T cell help in the priming of a CTL response. In this study, MHC class II(-/-) mice were unable to generate a CTL response following DNA immunization. This deficit in CTL stimulation by MHC class II-deficient mice was only modestly restored with CD40-activating Ab, suggesting that there were other elements provided by MHC class II-restricted T cell help for CTL induction. CTL activity was also augmented by coinjection with a vector encoding the costimulatory ligand B7.1, but not B7.2. These data indicate that dendritic cells in plasmid DNA-injected mice require conditioning signals from MHC class II-restricted T cells that are both CD40 dependent and independent and that there are different roles for costimulatory molecules that may be involved in inducing optimal CTL activity.

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