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Eur J Immunol. 2004 Mar;34(3):899-907. doi: 10.1002/eji.200324511.

The Toll-like receptor ligand MALP-2 stimulates dendritic cell maturation and modulates proteasome composition and activity.

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Vaccine Research Group, GBF-German Research Centre for Biotechnology, Braunschweig, Germany.
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Ferrara, Ferrara, Italy.


A 2-kDa synthetic derivative of the macrophage-activating lipopeptide (MALP-2) from Mycoplasma fermentans is a potent inducer of monocytes/macrophages and improves the immunogenicity of antigens co-administered by systemic and mucosal routes. Dendritic cells (DC) are the most potent antigen-presenting cells, which are able to prime naive T cells in vivo. To elucidate the underlying mechanisms of MALP-2 adjuvanticity, we analyzed its activity on bone marrow-derived murine DC. In vitro stimulation of immature murine DC with MALP-2 resulted in the induction of maturation with up-regulated expression of MHC class II, costimulatory (CD80, CD86) and adhesion (CD40, CD54) molecules. MALP-2 also enhances the secretion of cytokines (IL-1alpha, IL-6 and IL-12), and increases DC stimulatory activity on naive and antigen-specific T cells. Further studies demonstrated that MALP-2 treatment of DC results in a dose-dependent shift from the protein pattern of proteasomes to immunoproteasomes (up-regulation of LMP2, LMP7 and MECL1), which correlates with an increased proteolytic activity. Thus, the adjuvanticity of MALP-2 can be mediated, at least in part, by the stimulation of DC maturation, which in turn leads to an improved antigen presentation. Therefore, MALP-2 is a promising molecule for the development of immune therapeutic or prophylactic interventions.

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