Development of potent class II transactivator gene delivery systems capable of inducing de novo MHC II expression in human cells, in vitro and ex vivo

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Class II transactivator (CIITA) induces transcription of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) II genes and can potentially be used to improve genetic immunotherapies by converting non-immune cells into cells capable of presenting antigens to CD4+ T cells. However, CIITA expression is tightly controlled and it remains unclear whether distinct non-immune cells differ in this transactivator regulation. Here we describe the development of gene delivery systems capable of promoting the efficient CIITA expression in nonimmune cell lines and in primary human cells of an ex vivo skin explant model. Different human cell types undergoing CIITA overexpression presented high-level de novo expression of MHC II, validating the delivery systems as suitable tools for the CIITA evaluation as a molecular adjuvant for gene therapies.

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