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J Virol. 2009 Feb;83(4):1555-62. doi: 10.1128/JVI.00709-08. Epub 2008 Nov 26.

Expression of vFLIP in a lentiviral vaccine vector activates NF-{kappa}B, matures dendritic cells, and increases CD8+ T-cell responses.

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MRC Centre for Medical Molecular Virology, University College London, United Kingdom.


Lentiviral vectors deliver antigens to dendritic cells (DCs) in vivo, but they do not trigger DC maturation. We therefore expressed a viral protein that constitutively activates NF-kappaB, vFLIP from Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV), in a lentivector to mature DCs. vFLIP activated NF-kappaB in mouse bone marrow-derived DCs in vitro and matured these DCs to a similar extent as lipopolysaccharide; costimulatory markers CD80, CD86, CD40, and ICAM-1 were upregulated and tumor necrosis factor alpha and interleukin-12 secreted. The vFLIP-expressing lentivector also matured DCs in vivo. When we coexpressed vFLIP in a lentivector with ovalbumin (Ova), we found an increased immune response to Ova; up to 10 times more Ova-specific CD8(+) T cells secreting gamma interferon were detected in the spleens of vFLIP_Ova-immunized mice than in the spleens of mice immunized with GFP_Ova. Furthermore, this increased CD8(+) T-cell response correlated with improved tumor-free survival in a tumor therapy model. A single immunization with vFLIP_Ova also reduced the parasite load when mice were challenged with OVA-Leishmania donovani. In conclusion, vFLIP from KSHV is a DC activator, maturing DCs in vitro and in vivo. This demonstrates that NF-kappaB activation is sufficient to induce many aspects of DC maturation and that expression of a constitutive NF-kappaB activator can improve the efficacy of a vaccine vector.

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