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Immunol Lett. 1997 Jun 1;57(1-3):69-74.

Generation of heat shock protein-based vaccines by intracellular loading of gp96 with antigenic peptides.

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Department of Physiological Chemistry, University of Groningen, The Netherlands.


Several studies have shown that immunization with heat shock proteins (HSPs) purified from tumors of virus-infected cells induces specific cytotoxic T-cell (CTL) activity. This immune response is directed against peptides bound to the HSPs rather than against the HSPs themselves. The peptides are derived from tumor- or virus-specific proteins which are degraded in the course of normal protein turnover and processing for presentation by MHC class I molecules. The HSPs appear to function as carriers for the antigenic peptides. Upon immunization they ensure their uptake by specialized macrophages and their introduction into the MHC class I presentation route which is otherwise accessible only for intracellular proteins. Using influenza virus nucleoprotein (NP) as a model antigen, we have tested whether an HSP-based vaccine can be preduced by overexpressing an antigen in cultured cells prior to purification of the HSP's. The transfection system based on the Semliki Forest virus (SFV) replicon was employed to achieve high expression of NP. Since SFV-mediated transfection of murine cells was inefficient we used the hamster-derived cell line BHK21, which can be transfected with 100% efficiency, as a source for NP peptide-loaded gp96. The protein was purified from transfected cells and used for first vaccination studies. The hamster gp96 preparation was well tolerated in mice, an antibody response against the foreign protein was not observed. Preliminary results suggest that a cellular immune response against NP was indeed induced. SFV transfection is applicable for any known antigen and is therefore considered to be an elegant means for the production of HSP-based vaccines capable of inducing a cellular immune response.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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