[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Persistent infection of basal keratinocytes with high-risk human papillomavirus (hrHPV) may cause cancer. Keratinocytes are equipped with different pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) but hrHPV has developed ways to dampen their signals resulting in minimal inflammation and evasion of host immunity for sustained periods of time. To understand the mechanisms underlying hrHPV's capacity to evade immunity, we studied PRR signaling in non, newly, and persistently hrHPV-infected keratinocytes. We found that active infection with hrHPV hampered the relay of signals downstream of the PRRs to the nucleus, thereby affecting the production of type-I interferon and pro-inflammatory cytokines and chemokines. This suppression was shown to depend on hrHPV-induced expression of the cellular protein ubiquitin carboxyl-terminal hydrolase L1 (UCHL1) in keratinocytes. UCHL1 accomplished this by inhibiting tumor necrosis factor receptor-associated factor 3 (TRAF3) K63 poly-ubiquitination which lead to lower levels of TRAF3 bound to TANK-binding kinase 1 and a reduced phosphorylation of interferon regulatory factor 3. Furthermore, UCHL1 mediated the degradation of the NF-kappa-B essential modulator with as result the suppression of p65 phosphorylation and canonical NF-κB signaling. We conclude that hrHPV exploits the cellular protein UCHL1 to evade host innate immunity by suppressing PRR-induced keratinocyte-mediated production of interferons, cytokines and chemokines, which normally results in the attraction and activation of an adaptive immune response. This identifies UCHL1 as a negative regulator of PRR-induced immune responses and consequently its virus-increased expression as a strategy for hrHPV to persist.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Despite the presence of intracellular pathogen recognition receptors that allow infected cells to attract the immune system, undifferentiated keratinocytes (KCs) are the main targets for latent infection with high-risk human papilloma viruses (hrHPVs). HPV infections are transient but on average last for more than one year suggesting that HPV has developed means to evade host immunity. To understand how HPV persists, we studied the innate immune response of undifferentiated human KCs harboring episomal copies of HPV16 and 18 by genome-wide expression profiling. Our data showed that the expression of the different virus-sensing receptors was not affected by the presence of HPV. Poly(I:C) stimulation of the viral RNA receptors TLR3, PKR, MDA5 and RIG-I, the latter of which indirectly senses viral DNA through non-self RNA polymerase III transcripts, showed dampening in downstream signalling of these receptors by HPVs. Many of the genes downregulated in HPV-positive KCs involved components of the antigen presenting pathway, the inflammasome, the production of antivirals, pro-inflammatory and chemotactic cytokines, and components downstream of activated pathogen receptors. Notably, gene and/or protein interaction analysis revealed the downregulation of a network of genes that was strongly interconnected by IL-1β, a crucial cytokine to activate adaptive immunity. In summary, our comprehensive expression profiling approach revealed that HPV16 and 18 coordinate a broad deregulation of the keratinocyte's inflammatory response, and contributes to the understanding of virus persistence.
PLoS ONE 01/2011; 6(3):e17848. · 3.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: CD4(+) T cell responses against the E6 oncoprotein of human papillomavirus (HPV) type 16 and 5 closely related members of clade A9 (HPV31, 33, 35, 52, and 58) were charted in peripheral blood mononuclear cell cultures from healthy subjects and patients who underwent HPV16 E6/E7-specific vaccination. Initial analyses with overlapping peptide arrays showed that approximately one-half of the responding subjects displayed reactivity against corresponding E6 peptides from >or=2 HPV types. This suggested immunological cross-reactivity and complicated retrospective evaluation of the infection history of the healthy subjects. Importantly, further dissection of the response by means of enriched and clonal T cell cultures (with protein antigen instead of peptides) revealed that CD4(+) T cells that are capable of efficiently reacting against E6 antigen from multiple HPV types are rare and only occur when epitope sequences are highly conserved. Our data indicate that natural and vaccine-induced HPV16 E6-specific CD4(+) T cell responses are unlikely to mediate efficient cross-protection against other clade A9 members.
The Journal of Infectious Diseases 10/2010; 202(8):1200-11. · 5.85 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Priming of naive CD8(+) T cells by pathogens or vaccines generally involves their interaction with Ag-loaded dendritic cells (DCs) in the context of an inflamed lymph node. Lymph node activation fosters DC and T cell encounters and subsequently provides newly primed T cells with nurturing conditions. We dissected these two aspects by infusing in vitro primed CD8(+) T cells into naive recipient mice harboring a single activated lymph node and comparing the fate of these T cells with those infused into control recipients. Brief (20 h) in vitro priming empowered the T cells to expand in vivo without further Ag stimulation. This primary response was not affected by the presence or absence of a nonspecifically activated lymph node. In contrast, in vivo antigenic challenge after contraction of the primary response resulted in significantly stronger secondary T cell responses in mice harboring activated lymph nodes, demonstrating that the availability of an activated lymph node supported the generation of T cell memory in an Ag-unrelated manner. The presence of an activated lymph node during the expansion and contraction phase of the primary response did not endow T cells with an instructional program for increased survival or secondary expansion, but primarily served to conserve increased numbers of T cells.
The Journal of Immunology 09/2010; 185(6):3167-73. · 5.36 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The nonclassical major histocompatibility complex (MHC) Qa-1b accommodates monomorphic leader peptides and functions as a ligand for germ line receptors CD94/NKG2, which are expressed by natural killer cells and CD8+ T cells. We here describe that the conserved peptides are replaced by a novel peptide repertoire of surprising diversity as a result of impairments in the antigen-processing pathway. This novel peptide repertoire represents immunogenic neoantigens for CD8+ T cells, as we found that these Qa-1b-restricted T cells dominantly participated in the response to tumors with processing deficiencies. A surprisingly wide spectrum of target cells, irrespective of transformation status, MHC background, or type of processing deficiency, was recognized by this T cell subset, complying with the conserved nature of Qa-1b. Target cell recognition depended on T cell receptor and Qa-1b interaction, and immunization with identified peptide epitopes demonstrated in vivo priming of CD8+ T cells. Our data reveal that Qa-1b, and most likely its human homologue human leukocyte antigen-E, is important for the defense against processing-deficient cells by displacing the monomorphic leader peptides, which relieves the inhibition through CD94/NKG2A on lymphocytes, and by presenting a novel repertoire of immunogenic peptides, which recruits a subset of cytotoxic CD8+ T cells.
Journal of Experimental Medicine 01/2010; 207(1):207-21. · 13.91 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia is a chronic disorder caused by high-risk types of human papillomavirus (HPV), most commonly HPV type 16 (HPV-16). Spontaneous regression occurs in less than 1.5% of patients, and the rate of recurrence after treatment is high.
We investigated the immunogenicity and efficacy of a synthetic long-peptide vaccine in women with HPV-16-positive, high-grade vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia. Twenty women with HPV-16-positive, grade 3 vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia were vaccinated three or four times with a mix of long peptides from the HPV-16 viral oncoproteins E6 and E7 in incomplete Freund's adjuvant. The end points were clinical and HPV-16-specific T-cell responses.
The most common adverse events were local swelling in 100% of the patients and fever in 64% of the patients; none of these events exceeded grade 2 of the Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events of the National Cancer Institute. At 3 months after the last vaccination, 12 of 20 patients (60%; 95% confidence interval [CI], 36 to 81) had clinical responses and reported relief of symptoms. Five women had complete regression of the lesions, and HPV-16 was no longer detectable in four of them. At 12 months of follow-up, 15 of 19 patients had clinical responses (79%; 95% CI, 54 to 94), with a complete response in 9 of 19 patients (47%; 95% CI, 24 to 71). The complete-response rate was maintained at 24 months of follow-up. All patients had vaccine-induced T-cell responses, and post hoc analyses suggested that patients with a complete response at 3 months had a significantly stronger interferon-gamma-associated proliferative CD4+ T-cell response and a broad response of CD8+ interferon-gamma T cells than did patients without a complete response.
Clinical responses in women with HPV-16-positive, grade 3 vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia can be achieved by vaccination with a synthetic long-peptide vaccine against the HPV-16 oncoproteins E6 and E7. Complete responses appear to be correlated with induction of HPV-16-specific immunity.
New England Journal of Medicine 11/2009; 361(19):1838-47. · 54.42 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Immunogenicity of tumor-associated antigens (TAA) is often weak because many TAA are autoantigens for which the T-cell repertoire is sculpted by tolerance mechanisms. Substitutions at main anchor positions to increase the complementarity between the peptide and the MHC class I (MHC-I) binding cleft constitute a common procedure to improve binding capacity and immunogenicity of TAA. However, such alterations are tailored for each MHC-I allele and may recruit different CTL specificities through conformational changes in the targeted peptides. Comparative analysis of substituted melanoma-differentiation antigen gp100 in complex with H-2D(b) revealed that combined introduction of glycine and proline residues at the nonanchor positions 2 and 3, respectively, resulted in an agonistic altered peptide with dramatically enhanced binding affinity, stability, and immunogenicity of this TAA. Peptide vaccination using the p2Gp3P-altered peptide version of gp100 induced high frequencies of melanoma-specific CTL in the endogenous CD8+ repertoire. Crystal structure analysis of MHC/peptide complexes revealed that the conformation of the modified p2Gp3P-peptide was similar to the wild-type peptide, and indicated that this mimotope was stabilized through interactions between peptide residue p3P and the tyrosine residue Y159 that is conserved among most known MHC-I molecules throughout mammalian species. Our results may provide an alternative approach to enhance MHC stabilization capacity and immunogenicity of low-affinity peptides for induction of robust tumor-specific CTL.
Cancer Research 10/2009; 69(19):7784-92. · 9.28 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Immunotherapy of cancer through adoptive transfer of genetically engineered T-cells constitutes a more powerful strategy than attempts to mobilize the endogenous T-cell repertoire. Application of this technology in patients offers great opportunities towards a long-awaited breakthrough in cancer immunotherapy. However, recent findings in preclinical mouse models indicate that infusion of T-cells directed against tumor-associated auto-antigens can be associated with higher 'on target' toxicity than was anticipated on the basis of anti-tumor vaccination studies. Critical evaluation of candidate target antigens is required to ensure that T-cell receptor gene therapy will result in preferential attack of tumor cells in the absence of irreversible damage to vital somatic tissues.
Current opinion in immunology 04/2009; 21(2):190-9. · 10.88 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) is intensively studied as a potential target for immunotherapy of colorectal cancers. Although overexpressed by tumors, CEA is also expressed in normal tissues, raising questions about the feasibility and safety of CEA-targeted immunotherapy. We investigated these issues in transgenic mice in which the expression of human CEA in normal tissues closely resembles that in man. Our data show that the T-cell response against CEA in these mice is blunted by both thymic and peripheral tolerance. Consequently, effective tumor targeting is only achieved by adoptive transfer of T cells from nontolerant donors in combination with interventions that eliminate peripheral immune regulatory mechanisms. However, such treatments can result in severe intestinal autoimmune pathology associated with weight loss and mortality. Interestingly, preconditioning of recipient mice by depletion of T-regulatory cells results in immune-mediated tumor control in the absence of toxicity. In this setting, CEA-specific T-cell responses are lower than those induced by toxic regimens and accompanied by additional T-cell responses against non-self antigen. These findings illustrate the importance of testing adoptive immunotherapies targeting self antigens such as CEA in preclinical in vivo models and show that the choice of immune intervention regimen critically determines the balance between therapeutic efficacy and toxicity.
Cancer Research 11/2008; 68(20):8446-55. · 9.28 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Microsatellite instable (MSI) cancers express frameshift-mutated antigens, the C-terminal polypeptides of which are foreign to the immune system. Consequently, these antigens constitute a unique pool of tumor-specific antigens that can be exploited for patient diagnosis and selective, immune-mediated targeting of cancers. However, other than their sequence, very little is known about the characteristics of the majority of these proteins. We therefore developed a methodology for predicting their immunogenic behavior that is based on a gene-expression system, in which each of the proteins was fused to a short C-terminal polypeptide comprising two epitopes that can be readily detected by T-cells and antibodies, respectively. In this manner, accumulation of the antigens and processing of peptides derived thereof into MHC can be monitored systematically. The antigens, which accumulate in the cells in which they are synthesized, are of primary interest for cancer immunotherapy, because peptide epitopes derived thereof can be presented by dendritic cells in addition to the tumor cells themselves. As a result, these antigens constitute the best targets for a coordinated immune response by both CD8+ and CD4+ T-cells, which increases the likelihood that tumor-induced immunity would be detectable against these antigens in cancer patients, as well as the potential value of these antigens as components of anticancer vaccines. Our data indicate that, of 15 frameshift-mutated antigens examined in our study, 4 (TGFbetaR2-1, MARCKS-1, MARCKS-2 and CDX2-2) are of primary interest, and 4 additional antigens (TAF1B-1, PCNXL2-2, TCF7L2-2 and Baxalpha+1) are of moderate interest for further tumor immunological research.
International Journal of Cancer 09/2008; 123(4):838-45. · 6.20 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Activation of a cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) response in an antigen-exposed lymph node involves a great diversity of encounters between naive CTL and APC that differ in both duration and quality. This broad spectrum of priming events instigates a complex blend of CTL developmental pathways. Using an experimental system that allows tight control over CTL priming, we have singled out defined priming events and analyzed the impact of the resulting instructional program on the effector and memory phases of the CTL response. As expected, prolonged antigenic stimulation induces potent CTL expansion, effector function and CTL memory. In contrast, CTL that have received suboptimal stimulation fail to undergo extensive expansion. Nevertheless these arrested CTL persist long term and acquire memory function. Thus, our data demonstrate that CTL memory can develop as a result of a suboptimal stimulation that causes arrested clonal expansion.
European Journal of Immunology 08/2008; 38(7):1839-46. · 4.52 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We have tested the safety and feasibility of a synthetic long peptide-based HPV16-specific skin test to detect cellular immune responses to HPV16 E2, E6 and E7 in vivo. Women with cervical neoplasia (n = 11) and healthy individuals (n = 19) were intradermally challenged with 8 different pools of HPV16 E2, E6 and E7 peptides. The skin test was safe as the injections were perceived as mildly painful and no adverse events were observed. The majority of skin reactions appeared significantly earlier in HPV16+ patients (<8 days) than in healthy subjects (8-25 days). The development of late skin reactions in healthy subjects was associated with the appearance of circulating HPV16-specific T cells and the infiltration of both HPV16-specific CD4+ Th1/Th2 and CD8+ T cells into the skin. These data show that the intradermal injection of pools of HPV16 synthetic long peptides is safe and results in the migration of HPV16-specific T cells into the skin as well as in an increase in the number of circulating HPV16-specific T cells. The use of this test to measure HPV16-specific immunity is currently tested in a low resource setting for the measurement of spontaneously induced T-cell responses as well as in our HPV16 vaccination trials for the detection of vaccine-induced immunity.
International Journal of Cancer 08/2008; 123(1):146-52. · 6.20 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Dexamethason (DEX) treated DC display several features that establish them as candidates for specific allogeneic tolerance induction. We report the results of in vitro studies of polarization of the alloimmune T cell response with two types of differentially modulated human DC. Both DEX treated DC triggered by LPS for 6 h (DEX6-DC) and DEX treated DC triggered by LPS for 48 h (DEX48-DC) acquired low levels of costimulatory, adhesion, and MHC class II molecules compared with mature DC (mDC). In contrast to mDC, both DEX6-DC and DEX48-DC did not produce any IL-12. DEX6-DC were able to produce significant amounts of IL-10 whereas DEX48-DC did not actively produce IL-10. Conversely, the induction of IL-10 producing cells was significantly increased when PBL were stimulated with DEX48-DC compared with DEX6-DC. Both stimulation of PBL with DEX6-DC and DEX48-DC led to the induction of cell populations able to suppress the proliferative alloimmune response of primed T cells in a cell-cell contact independent and antigen-nonspecific manner. Tregs obtained after stimulation with DEX48-DC were also able to inhibit the IFN-gamma production of the effector cells and this effect could be blocked by anti-IL-10. Tregs induced by DEX6-DC produced similar amounts of IL-10, yet were not able to inhibit IFN-gamma production of the effector T cells, indicating a different mechanism. In summary, we show that differential modulation of DC results in the induction of different populations of regulatory T cells.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Anti-tumor vaccines consisting of extended CTL peptides in combination with CpG-ODN were shown to be superior to those comprising minimal CTL epitopes and CpG-ODN, in that they elicit stronger effector CTL responses with greater tumoricidal potential. We now demonstrate that this improved performance is primarily due to the focusing of CTL epitope presentation onto activated DC in the inflamed lymph nodes draining the vaccination site. In the case of vaccination with minimal peptides, additional APC including T and B cells are also loaded with CTL epitopes. Our data suggest that circulation of these peptide-loaded lymphocytes leads to epitope presentation in non-inflamed lymphoid organs distal from the vaccination site, in the absence of potent costimulatory signals required for efficient CTL priming. The resulting blend of pro-immunogenic and tolerogenic signals, which results in suboptimal activation of the CTL response, is avoided by vaccinating with extended CTL peptides. An additional advantage of extended CTL peptide vaccines is an increased duration of in vivo epitope presentation.
European Journal of Immunology 05/2008; 38(4):1033-42. · 4.52 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Microsatellite repeats are frequently found to be mutated in microsatellite-instable colorectal tumours. This suggests that these mutations are important events during tumour development. We have observed frequent mutations in microsatellite-instable (MSI-H) tumours and cell lines of a conserved A14 repeat within the 3'-untranslated region of the interferon-gamma receptor 1 gene (IFNGR1). The repeat was mutated in 59% (41 of 70) of colon carcinomas and in all four MSI-H colon cancer cell lines tested. In-vitro analysis of these cell lines did not show a decreased responsiveness to standard IFNgamma concentrations when compared to microsatellite-stable colon cancer cell lines. A functional consequence of the frequently found microsatellite instability in IFNGR1 is therefore not evident.
European Journal of HumanGenetics 05/2008; 16(10):1235-9. · 4.23 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Human papillomavirus (HPV)-induced malignancies are frequently infiltrated by lymphocytes. To comprehend the contribution of HPV-specific T cells in this anti-tumor response we developed a method that allowed the analysis of the presence and specificity of cervix-infiltrating and draining lymph node resident T cells in a group of 74 patients with cervical malignancies, 54 of which were induced by HPV16 or HPV18. We detected the presence of HPV16 or HPV18-specific T cells in at least 23 of the 54 HPV-16 or -18 positive patients, and not in the 20 controls. Detailed studies resulted in the identification of 17 novel CD4+ and CD8+ T cell epitopes and their HLA-restriction elements, and also revealed that the HPV-specific immune response was aimed at both E6 and E7 and showed no preferential recognition of immunodominant regions. Unexpectedly, the vast majority of the CD4+ T cell epitopes were presented in the context of the less abundantly expressed HLA-DQ and HLA-DP molecules. Since the identified T cell epitopes constitute physiological targets in the immune response to HPV16 and HPV18 positive tumors they will be valuable for detailed studies on the interactions between the tumor and the immune system. This is crucial for the optimization of cancer immunotherapy in patients with pre-existing tumor-immunity.
International Journal of Cancer 03/2008; 122(3):486-94. · 6.20 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Tumorigenesis is frequently associated with mutation and overexpression of p53, which makes it an attractive target antigen for T cell-mediated immunotherapy of cancer. However, the magnitude and breadth of the p53-specific T-cell repertoire may be restricted due to the ubiquitous expression of wild-type p53 in normal somatic tissues. In view of the importance of the CD4+ T-helper cell responses in effective antitumor immunity, we have analyzed and compared the p53-specific reactivity of this T cell subset in p53+/+ and p53-/- C57Bl/6 mice. This response was found to be directed against the same three immunodominant epitopes in both mouse types. Fine-specificity, magnitude, and avidity were not affected by self-tolerance. Immunization of p53-/- and p53+/+ mice with synthetic peptide vaccines comprising the identified epitopes induced equal levels of Th1 immunity. Our findings imply that the p53-specific CD4+ T-cell repertoire is not restricted by self-tolerance and is fully available for the targeting of cancer.
Cancer Research 03/2008; 68(3):893-900. · 9.28 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To determine the toxicity, safety, and immunogenicity of a human papillomavirus 16 (HPV16) E6 and E7 long peptide vaccine administered to end-stage cervical cancer patients.
Three groups of end-stage cervical cancer patients (in total n = 35) were s.c. vaccinated with HPV16 E6 combined with or separated from HPV16 E7 overlapping long peptides in Montanide ISA-51 adjuvant, four times at 3-week intervals. Group 1 received 300 microg/peptide at a single site and group 2 received 100 microg/peptide of the E6 peptides in one limb and 300 microg/peptide of the E7 peptides in a second limb. Group 3 received separate injections of E6 and E7 peptides, each at a dose of 50 microg/peptide. The primary end point was to determine safety and toxicity of the HPV16 long peptides vaccine. In addition, the vaccine-induced T-cell response was assessed by IFN gamma enzyme-linked immunospot.
No toxicity beyond grade 2 was observed during and after four vaccinations. In a few patients, transient flu-like symptoms were observed. Enzyme-linked immunospot analysis of the vaccine-induced immune response revealed that coinjection of the E6 and E7 peptides resulted in a strong and broad T-cell response dominated by immunity against E6. Injection of the E6 and E7 peptides at two different sites increased the E7 response but did not affect the magnitude of the E6-induced immune response.
The HPV16 E6 and E7 long peptide-based vaccine is well tolerated and capable of inducing a broad IFN gamma-associated T-cell response even in end-stage cervical cancer patients.
Clinical Cancer Research 02/2008; 14(1):169-77. · 8.19 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The study aims to evaluate the effect of a human papillomavirus type 16 (HPV16) E6 and E7 synthetic long peptides vaccine on the antigen-specific T-cell response in cervical cancer patients.
Patients with resected HPV16-positive cervical cancer were vaccinated with an overlapping set of long peptides comprising the sequences of the HPV16 E6 and E7 oncoproteins emulsified in Montanide ISA-51. HPV16-specific T-cell immune responses were analyzed by evaluating the magnitude, breadth, type, and polarization by proliferation assays, IFN gamma-ELISPOT, and cytokine production and phenotyped by the T-cell markers CD4, CD8, CD25, and Foxp3.
Vaccine-induced T-cell responses against HPV16 E6 and E7 were detected in six of six and five of six patients, respectively. These responses were broad, involved both CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells, and could be detected up to 12 months after the last vaccination. The vaccine-induced responses were dominated by effector type CD4(+)CD25(+)Foxp3(-) type 1 cytokine IFN gamma-producing T cells but also included the expansion of T cells with a CD4(+)CD25(+)Foxp3(+) phenotype.
The HPV16 E6 and E7 synthetic long peptides vaccine is highly immunogenic, in that it increases the number and activity of HPV16-specific CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells to a broad array of epitopes in all patients. The expansion of CD4(+) and CD8(+) tumor-specific T cells, both considered to be important in the antitumor response, indicates the immunotherapeutic potential of this vaccine. Notably, part of the vaccine-induced T cells display a CD4(+)CD25(+)Foxp3(+) phenotype that is frequently associated with regulatory T-cell function, suggesting that strategies to disarm this subset of T cells should be considered as components of immunotherapeutic modalities against HPV-induced cancers.
Clinical Cancer Research 02/2008; 14(1):178-87. · 8.19 Impact Factor