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Vaccine. 2005 Aug 31;23(37):4553-64.

A mutant B7-1/Ig fusion protein that selectively binds to CTLA-4 ameliorates anti-tumor DNA vaccination and counters regulatory T cell activity.

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  • 1Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology, St. Michael's Hospital and University of Toronto, 30 Bond Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5B 1W8.


We have shown that a plasmid encoding a B7-1/Ig fusion protein enhanced DNA vaccination against human carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) more effectively than the plasmid encoding membrane-bound B7-1. However, it was not known if B7-1/Ig acted only by binding CD28 (amplifying a stimulatory signal) or by blocking CTLA-4 on T cells (removing inhibitory signals). Here, we aimed to determine this using a plasmid encoding mutant B7-1/Ig (B7-1wa/Ig), which binds only to CTLA-4 but not to CD28. Our results showed that both the B7-1/Ig and B7-1wa/Ig plasmids, when co-administered with a CEA plasmid, enhanced tumor rejection and the in vitro anti-CEA response. Therefore, B7-1wa/Ig ameliorates DNA vaccination, presumably by binding to CTLA-4. This could result from a number of non-exclusive mechanisms, such as a reduced threshold for T-cell activation, or blockade of CTLA-4/B7-mediated tolerogenic signals in DCs or T cells. We found that, in vitro, a significant fraction of CD3/CD28-activated T cells (in the absence of DCs) expressed CTLA-4 and B7-1. Primed T cells of CTLA-4(+)B7-1(+/-) phenotype acted as regulatory T cells by inhibiting IFNgamma production by re-stimulated CTLA-4(-)B7-1(-) cells, and this was reversed by antibodies against IL-10 or TGF-beta1. Both B7-1wa/Ig and CTLA-4/Ig, which bind to CTLA-4 and B7-1/B7-2 respectively, enhanced IFNgamma production, but not the proliferation or IL-4 release in mixed T-cell populations containing these two cell types. In contrast, CTLA-4(-)B7-1(-) T cells produced IFNgamma which was not affected by B7-1wa/Ig or CTLA-4/Ig. These results suggest that blocking of CTLA-4/B7-1 binding in T cell/T cell interactions blocks negative regulatory signals. This might be the mechanism, at least in part, of the enhancement of anti-tumor immunity by the B7-1wa/Ig and B7-1/Ig plasmids.

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