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Clin Exp Immunol. 2009 Jul;157(1):128-38. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2249.2009.03943.x.

Protective anti-tumour immune responses by murine dendritic cells pulsed with recombinant Tat-carcinoembryonic antigen derived from Escherichia coli.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.


Carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) is over-expressed on various human cancer cells and has been the target of immunotherapies using dendritic cells (DCs) pulsed with CEA-specific RNA or peptides, or transduced by CEA-expressing adenovirus or vaccinia virus. Because activated DCs do not phagocytose soluble protein antigens efficiently and pure immature DCs are not obtained easily ex vivo, an efficacious whole CEA protein-loaded DC vaccine has not been reported. To improve the antigen delivery into DCs, we utilized CEA conjugated to a protein-transduction domain, human immunodeficiency virus transactivating Tat. Furthermore, we purified the truncated non-glycosylated CEA from Escherichia coli to overcome the safety concerns and immunosuppressive functions associated with the native CEA protein. Using confocal microscopy and fluorescence activating cell sorter analysis, we demonstrated that the Tat-CEA protein entered the cytoplasm of DCs efficiently within 10 min of co-culture, compared with the negligible amount of CEA into DCs 30 min later. CEA-specific T cell proliferation and cytotoxic T cell responses were enhanced significantly in mice immunized with Tat-CEA-pulsed DCs [DC (Tat-CEA)] compared with those immunized with CEA-pulsed DCs [DC (CEA)]. T helper type 1 responses were more prominent in the DC (Tat-CEA) immunized mice whose splenocytes secreted more interferon-gamma and less interleukin-4 than those from DC (CEA) immunized mice. In vivo, the DC (Tat-CEA) vaccine delayed tumour growth significantly and prolonged survival of tumour-bearing mice. These results suggest that protective epitopes are well preserved on bacteria-derived recombinant Tat-CEA. This strategy may provide a basic platform for DC-based anti-CEA vaccines that could be utilized in combination with advanced immune-enhancing therapeutics.

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