CD40/APC-specific antibodies with three T-cell epitopes loaded in the constant domains induce CD4+ T-cell responses

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CD4+ T lymphocytes play a central role in the orchestration and maintenance of the adaptive immune response. Targeting of antigen to antigen presenting cells (APCs) increases peptide loading of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II molecules and CD4+ T-cell activation. APCs have been targeted by APC-specific recombinant antibodies (rAbs) with single T-cell epitopes integrated in the constant region of the heavy chain (CH). However, the strategy may be improved if several T-cell epitopes could be delivered simultaneously by one rAb. We here demonstrate that a single rAb can be loaded with multiple identical or different T-cell epitopes, integrated as loops between β-strands in CH domains. One epitope was inserted in CH1, while two were placed in CH2 of IgG. T-cell proliferation assays showed that all three peptides were excised from loops and presented on MHC class II to T-cells. Induction of T-cell activation by each epitope in the multi-peptide rAb was as good, or even better, than that elicited by corresponding single-peptide rAbs. Furthermore, following DNA vaccination of mice with plasmids that encode CD40-specific rAbs loaded with either one or three peptides, T-cell responses were induced. Thus, integration of multiple epitopes in CH region loops of APC-specific rAbs is feasible and may be utilized in design of multi-vaccines.

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