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J Immunol. 2011 Apr 15;186(8):4565-72. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1002529. Epub 2011 Mar 9.

Conventional dendritic cells are required for the activation of helper-dependent CD8 T cell responses to a model antigen after cutaneous vaccination with lentiviral vectors.

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  • 1Division of Cancer Studies, Department of Haematology, University College London, Royal Free Campus, London NW3 2PF, United Kingdom.


Cutaneous vaccination with lentiviral vectors generates systemic CD8 T cell responses that have the potential to eradicate tumors for cancer immunotherapy. However, although s.c. immunization with <1 million lentiviral particles clearly primes cytotoxic T cells, vaccination with much higher doses has routinely been used to define the mechanisms of T cell activation by lentiviral vectors. In particular, experiments to test presentation of lentiviral Ags by dendritic cells (DC) require injection of high viral titers, which may result in aberrant transduction of different DC populations. We exploited inducible murine models of DC depletion to investigate which DC prime the lentiviral response after s.c. immunization with low doses of lentiviral particles. In this article, we demonstrate that conventional DC are required to present Ag to CD8 T cells in draining lymph nodes. Langerhans cells are not required to activate the effector response, and neither Langerhans cells nor plasmacytoid DC are sufficient to prime Ag-specific T cells. Immunization drives the generation of endogenous long-lived memory T cells that can be reactivated to kill Ag-specific targets in the absence of inflammatory challenge. Furthermore, lentiviral vaccination activates expansion of endogenous CD4 Th cells, which are required for the generation of effector CD8 T cells that produce IFN-γ and kill Ag-specific targets. Collectively, we demonstrate that after cutaneous immunization with lentiviral particles, CD4-licensed lymph node conventional DC present Ag to CD8 T cells, resulting in the generation of protective endogenous antitumor immunity that may be effective for cancer immunotherapy.

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