[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Over the past two decades, there has been significant interest in targeting HER-2/neu in immune-based approaches for the treatment of HER-2/neu+ cancers. For example, peptide vaccination using a CD8 T cell-activating HER-2/neu epitope (amino acids 369-377) is an approach that is being considered in advanced phase clinical trials. Studies have suggested that the persistence of HER-2/neu-specific CD8 T cells could be improved by incorporating human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class II epitopes in the vaccine. Our goal in this study was to identify broad coverage HLA-DR epitopes of HER-2/neu, an antigen that is highly expressed in a variety of carcinomas.
A combination of algorithms and HLA-DR-binding assays was used to identify HLA-DR epitopes of HER-2/neu antigen. Evidence of preexistent immunity in cancer patients against the identified epitopes was determined using IFN-gamma enzyme-linked immunosorbent spot (ELIspot) assay.
Eighty-four HLA-DR epitopes of HER-2/neu were predicted, 15 of which had high binding affinity for > or =11 common HLA-DR molecules. A degenerate pool of four HLA-DR-restricted 15-amino acid epitopes (p59, p88, p422, and p885) was identified, against which >58% of breast and ovarian cancer patients had preexistent T-cell immunity. All four epitopes are naturally processed by antigen-presenting cells. Hardy-Weinberg analysis showed that the pool is useful in approximately 84% of population. Lastly, in this degenerate pool, we identified a novel in vivo immunodominant HLA-DR epitope, HER-2/neu(88-102) (p88).
The broad coverage and natural immunity to this epitope pool suggests potential usefulness in HER-2/neu-targeting, immune-based therapies such as vaccines.
Clinical Cancer Research 02/2010; 16(3):825-34. · 7.84 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: CD4 T cells are important for anti-tumor immune responses. Aside from their role in the activation of CD8 T cells, CD4 T cells also mediate anti-tumor immune responses by recruiting innate immune effectors into the tumor microenvironment. Thus, the search for strategies to boost CD4 T cell immunity is an active area of research. Our goal in this study was to identify HLA-DR epitopes of carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA), a commonly over-expressed tumor antigen. HLA-DR epitopes of CEA were identified using the epitope prediction program, PIC (predicted IC(50)) and tested using in vitro HLA-DR binding assays. Following CEA epitope confirmation, IFN-gamma ELIspot assays were used to detect existing immunity against the HLA-DR epitope panel of CEA in breast and ovarian cancer patients. In vitro generated peptide-specific CD4 T cells were used to determine whether the epitopes are naturally processed from CEA protein. Forty-three epitopes of CEA were predicted, 15 of which had high binding affinity for 8 or more common HLA-DR molecules. A degenerate pool of four, HLA-DR restricted 15 amino acid epitopes (CEA.24, CEA.176/354, CEA.488, and CEA.653) consisting of two novel epitopes (CEA.24 and CEA.488) was identified against which 40% of breast and ovarian cancer patients had pre-existent T cell immunity. All four epitopes are naturally processed by antigen-presenting cells. Hardy-Weinberg analysis showed that the pool is useful in approximately 94% of patients. Patients with breast or ovarian cancer demonstrate pre-existent immune responses to the tumor antigen CEA. The degenerate pool of CEA peptides may be useful for augmenting CD4 T cell immunity.
Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy 08/2009; 59(1):161-71. · 3.64 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Recent studies have shown the importance of helper CD4 T cells in initiating and sustaining tumor-specific CD8 T-cell immunity. This has paved the way for identifying MHC class II epitopes that could be incorporated into class I-based vaccines. In this study, the goal was to identify an HLA-DR-degenerate epitope pool derived from insulin-like growth factor binding protein 2 (IGFBP-2). IGFBP-2, a regulator of insulin-like growth factor action, is overexpressed in the majority of breast and ovarian cancers. Using algorithms, we predicted 29 HLA-DR1-binding epitopes. Binding assays targeting 15 different HLA-DRs revealed that 10 epitopes were degenerate, binding to at least four different HLA-DR variants. An IFN-gamma enzyme-linked immunosorbent spot assay was used to assess immunity to these 10 epitopes in 48 patients with either breast or ovarian cancer and 18 controls. Elevated T-cell immunity in patients was detected in 4 of the 10 epitopes (IGFBP2.17, IGFBP2.22, IGFBP2.249, and IGFBP2.293). The cumulative T-cell frequency of these four epitopes was elevated in patients relative to controls. All four peptides are naturally processed and presented to CD4 T-cells. The degenerate pool of peptides covers nearly 80% of patients and may be useful for augmenting CD4 T-cell immunity in patients undergoing immunization.
Cancer Research 07/2008; 68(12):4893-901. · 8.65 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Effective vaccines that mediate clinical responses in cancer patients may require generation of broadly specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) directed against multiple epitopes and tumor-associated antigens (TAA). Pursuant to this goal we developed a synthetic peptide vaccine, EP-2101, composed of 10 synthetic peptide epitopes and formulated in Montanide ISA 51 adjuvant. Nine of the HLA-A*0201-restricted CTL epitopes were derived from five well-characterized TAA. The universal HLA-DR binding epitope PADRE was also included for T-cell help. Herein we describe studies on the formulation and characterization of the EP-2101 vaccine which supports generation of a sterile single-vial emulsion using standardized processes. The physicochemical properties of the peptides were highly disparate and as such, solubilization studies were required to identify a process which supported sterile filtration of the EP-2101 peptide mix. A homogenization-based formulation process with Montanide ISA 51 and 0.5 mg/ml of each peptide was developed to generate a water-in-oil emulsion. Physical studies indicated the vaccine emulsion to be stable, with little change in visual appearance, viscosity and water droplet size for at least three months. The physical stability of individual peptides in the vaccine emulsion was demonstrated using HPLC and immunogenicity of the vaccine formulation was confirmed in HLA-A*0201/K(b) transgenic mice where T-cell responses could be induced to all epitopes in EP-2101 following vaccination. Our study process is scalable for production of approximately 1.5 liters of potent experimental vaccine for preclinical animal toxicity and phase 1 clinical testing in patients with breast, colon or lung cancer.
Human vaccines 12/2007; 4(3):210-8. · 3.14 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In order to broaden the possibility for anti-HER-2/neu (HER-2) immune targeting, it is important to identify HLA-A24 restricted peptide epitopes derived from HER-2, since HLA-A24 is one of the most common alleles in Japanese and Asian people. In the present study, we have screened HER-2-derived, HLA-A24 binding peptides for cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) epitopes. A panel of HER-2-derived peptides with HLA-A24 binding motifs and the corresponding analogs designed to enhance HLA-A24 binding affinity were selected. Identification of HER-2-reactive and HLA-A24 restricted CTL epitopes were performed by a reverse immunology approach. To induce HER-2-reactive and HLA-A24 restricted CTLs, PBMCs from healthy donors were repeatedly stimulated with monocytes-derived, mature DCs pulsed with HER-2 peptide. Subsequent peptide-induced T cells were tested for the specificity by enzyme linked immunospot, cytotoxicity and tetramer assays. CTL clones were then obtained from the CTL lines by limiting dilution. Of the peptides containing HLA-A24 binding motifs, 16 peptides (nine mers) including wild type peptides (IC50 <1,000 nM) and substituted analog peptides (IC50 <50 nM) were selected for the present study. Our studies show that an analog peptide, HER-2(905AA), derived from HER-2(905) could efficiently induce HER-2-reactive and HLA-A24 restricted CTLs. The reactivity of the HER-2(905AA)-induced CTL (CTL905AA) was confirmed by different CTL assays. The CTL905AA clones also were able to lyse HER-2(+), HLA-A24(+) tumor cells and cytotoxicity could be significantly reduced in cold target inhibition assays using cold targets pulsed with the HER-2(905) wild type peptide as well as the inducing HER-2(905AA) analog peptide. A newly identified HER-2(905) peptide epitope is naturally processed and presented as a CTL epitope on HER-2 overexpressing tumor cells, and an MHC anchor-substituted analog, HER-2(905AA), can efficiently induce HER-2-specific, HLA-A24 restricted CTLs.
Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy 11/2006; 55(11):1358-66. · 3.64 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The HER-2/neu (HER-2) oncogene is expressed in normal epithelial surfaces at low levels and overexpressed in several types of tumors. The low immunogenicity against this self tumor Ag can be improved by developing epitopes with amino acid replacements in their sequences. In this study, three HER-2/neu.369 (HER-2.369) analogue peptides, produced by modifying both anchor positions by introducing L, V, or T at position 2 and V at the C terminus, were analyzed for their capacity to induce CTLs in vitro from human PBMC and in vivo in HLA-A2.1/Kb transgenic mice. One of the analogues (HER-2.369 V2V9) sensitized target cells for HER-2-specific recognition by human CTLs and induced specific CTLs in vitro at 100-fold lower concentrations than the HER-2.369 wild-type epitope. These CTLs were also able to recognize the wild-type epitope and HER-2-expressing tumors in an MHC-restricted manner. Furthermore, a 100-fold lower amount of the HER-2.369 V2V9 analogue compared with the wild-type epitope was required to induce CTLs in HLA-A2.1/Kb transgenic mice. However, the V2V9 analogue demonstrated only marginally better binding to the MHC class I A2 allele compared with wild type. To establish thermodynamic parameters, we developed radiolabeled F3*Y analogues from both the HER-2.369 epitope and the V2V9 analogue. Our results indicate that the high biological activity of the HER-2.369 V2V9 epitope is associated with a slower dissociation kinetic profile, resulting in an epitope with greater HLA-A2 stability.
The Journal of Immunology 04/2004; 172(6):3501-8. · 5.52 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The purpose of this study was to immunize patients with HER-2/neu-overexpressing cancer with a multipeptide vaccine comprised of four class II HER-2/neu peptides that had been identified as the most immunogenic in a previous clinical trial. Furthermore, we questioned whether MHC binding affinity could predict the in vivo immunogenicity of the HER-2/neu helper peptides.
Four putative class II HER-2/neu peptides, which were found to generate detectable specific T-cell responses (stimulation index > 2) in a majority of patients in a previous study, were used to formulate a single vaccine. The multipeptide vaccine was administered intradermally with granulocyte macrophage colony-stimulating factor as an adjuvant. Ten patients with HER-2/neu overexpressing breast or lung cancer were enrolled. HER-2/neu peptide-and protein-specific T cell and antibody immune responses were measured. Competitive inhibition assays were used to analyze the class II HER-2/neu peptides for their binding affinity to 14 common HLA-DR alleles.
Twenty-five percent of patients developed HER-2/neu peptide-specific T-cell immunity, and 50% developed HER-2/neu peptide-specific antibody immunity. No patient developed HER-2/neu protein-specific T cell or antibody immunity. The majority of peptides exhibited high binding affinity, in vitro, to >/==" BORDER="0">3 of the 14 DR alleles analyzed.
The group of peptides used in this study demonstrated high binding affinity to multiple DR alleles suggesting that in vitro binding affinity may be able to predict the in vivo immunogenicity of class II peptides. However, only a minority of patients immunized with the multipeptide vaccine developed HER-2/neu peptide-specific T cell or antibody immunity, and none developed HER-2/neu protein-specific immunity.
Clinical Cancer Research 11/2003; 9(15):5559-65. · 7.84 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The current objective of our cancer programme is to develop an effective vaccine based on rationally designed T cell epitope analogues, for use in the adjuvant setting for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and colon cancer. Analogue epitopes, enhanced for either human leukocyte antigen (HLA) binding or T cell receptor (TCR) signalling, have been shown to be more effective at breaking immunological tolerance than cognate wild-type epitopes. Although encouraging early-phase clinical data has been obtained by others using a limited number of HLA-A2-restricted epitope analogues, the clinical benefits and immune correlates for vaccines comprised of multiple epitope analogues restricted by multiple HLA supertypes remains to be investigated. Clinical studies are currently being conducted on EP-2101, a prototype vaccine that delivers multiple HLA-A2-restricted analogue epitopes. In parallel, fixed anchor and heteroclitic analogues restricted by three other commonly expressed HLA supertypes are being identified. These analogues will be incorporated into future vaccines including optimised minigenes (epigenes) and tested in preclinical and clinical studies addressing various different cancer indications.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The basic premise of the epitope-based approach to vaccine development is that, in certain cases, the responses induced by the natural immunogen are not optimal, and can be improved upon by isolation or optimization of specific components of the response. For example, immunodominance is a key factor limiting the type and breadth of adaptive immunity. Recent advances in understanding the mechanisms of immunodominance thus represent an opportunity to further develop the epitope-based approach.
Current Opinion in Immunology 09/2003; 15(4):461-70. · 8.77 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In this review we describe the methods and processes that our group have developed while aiming to test and design multiepitope vaccines for infectious diseases and cancer. Testing the performance of vaccines composed of epitopes restricted by human leukocyte antigen (HLA) molecules is accomplished by in vitro antigenicity assays, as well as in vivo immunogenicity assays in HLA transgenics. The efficiency by which multiepitope vaccines are processed is optimized by spacer residues, which are designed to facilitate generation by natural processing of the various class I- and class II-restricted epitopes. Methods and strategies to test and optimize HLA binding affinity, patient coverage from the vaccine construct, and TCR recognition of HLA/epitope complexes are also discussed.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Proteins are generally regarded as ineffective immunogens for CTL responses. We synthesized a 100-mer decaepitope polypeptide and tested its capacity to induce multiple CD8(+) IFN-gamma and Th lymphocyte (HTL) responses in HLA transgenic mice. Following a single immunization in the absence of adjuvant, significant IFN-gamma in vitro recall responses were detected for all epitopes included in the construct (six A2.1-, three A11-restricted CTL epitopes, and one universal HTL epitope). Immunization with truncated forms of the decaepitope polypeptide was used to demonstrate that optimal immunogenicity was associated with a size of at least 30-40 residues (3-4 epitopes). Solubility analyses of the truncated constructs were used to identify a correlation between immunogenicity for IFN-gamma responses and the propensity of these constructs to form particulate aggregates. Although the decaepitope polypeptide and a pool of epitopes emulsified in IFA elicited similar levels of CD8(+) responses using fresh splenocytes, we found that the decaepitope polypeptide more effectively primed for in vitro recall CD8(+) T cell responses. Finally, immunogenicity comparisons were also made between the decaepitope polypeptide and a corresponding gene encoding the same polypeptide delivered by naked DNA immunization. Although naked DNA immunization induced somewhat greater direct ex vivo and in vitro recall responses 2 wk after a single immunization, only the polypeptide induced significant in vitro recall responses 6 wk following the priming immunization. These studies support further evaluation of multiepitope polypeptide vaccines for induction of CD8(+) IFN-gamma and HTL responses.
The Journal of Immunology 07/2002; 168(12):6189-98. · 5.52 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The development of processes for engineering multi-epitope vaccines based on the identification and selection of epitope packages, along with vaccine design optimization using epitope placements and spacers to optimize processing efficacy, are reviewed. The Epimmune Inc epitope identification process has been applied to numerous cancer types, but also applies to infectious diseases. Epitope-analog efforts in novel vaccine design have also been explored and their uses in prophylactic and therapeutic applications are eagerly anticipated.
Current opinion in investigational drugs (London, England: 2000) 02/2002; 3(1):132-9. · 3.55 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Certain peptide analogs that carry substitutions at residues other than the main major histocompatibility complex anchors and are surprisingly much more antigenic than wild-type peptide (heteroclitic analogs). To date, it was unknown how frequently wild-type epitopes could be modified to obtain heteroclitic activity. In this study, we analyzed a large panel of analogs of two different human histocompatibility leukocyte antigen (HLA)-A2.1-restricted epitopes and found that heteroclitic analogs were associated with higher magnitude responses and increased (up to 10(7)-fold) sensitivity to antigen, and corresponded to conservative or semiconservative substitutions at odd-numbered positions in the middle of the peptide (positions 3, 5, or 7). These findings were validated by performing additional immunogenicity studies in murine and human systems with four additional epitopes. The biological relevance of heteroclitic analogs was underlined when predicted analogs of the p53.261 epitope was shown to induce cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) that recognize low concentrations of peptide (high avidity) in vivo and demonstrate in vitro antitumor recognition. Finally, in vitro immunization of human peripheral blood mononuclear cells with two heteroclitic analogs resulted in recruitment of more numerous CTLs which were associated with increased antigen sensitivity. In conclusion, heteroclitic analogs were identified in each of the six cases studied and structural features were defined which allow identification of such analogs. The strong CTL immunity elicited by heteroclitic epitopes suggest that they could be of significant value in vaccination against tolerant or weakly immunogenic tumor-associated and viral antigens.
Journal of Experimental Medicine 10/2001; 194(6):833-46. · 13.21 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Forty-two wild-type and analogue peptides derived from p53, carcinoembryonic Ag, Her2/neu, and MAGE2/3 were screened for their capacity to induce CTLs, in vitro, capable of recognizing tumor target lines. All the peptides bound HLA-A*0201 and two or more additional A2 supertype alleles with an IC(50) of 500 nM or less. A total of 20 of 22 wild-type and 9 of 12 single amino acid substitution analogues were found to be immunogenic in primary in vitro CTL induction assays, using normal PBMCs and GM-CSF/IL-4-induced dendritic cells. These results suggest that peripheral T cell tolerance does not prevent, in this system, induction of CTL responses against tumor-associated Ag peptides, and confirm that an HLA class I affinity of 500 nM or less is associated with CTL epitope immunogenicity. CTLs generated by 13 of 20 of the wild-type epitopes, 6 of 9 of the single, and 2 of 5 of the double substitution analogues tested recognized epitopes generated by endogenous processing of tumor-associated Ags and expressed by HLA-matched cancer cell lines. Further analysis revealed that recognition of naturally processed Ag was correlated with high HLA-A2.1-binding affinity (IC(50) = 200 nM or less; p = 0.008), suggesting that high binding affinity epitopes are frequently generated and can be recognized as a result of natural Ag processing. These results have implications for the development of cancer vaccines, in particular, and for the process of epitope selection in general.
The Journal of Immunology 08/2001; 167(2):787-96. · 5.52 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Recently, a dual receptor agonist for human Flt3 and G-CSF receptors, progenipoietin-4 (ProGP-4), was shown to be highly effective in expanding DC in vivo. In this study, we examined the immunological activity of ProGP-4-generated dendritic cell (DC) in an HLA-A2.1 transgenic mouse system. ProGP-4 DC were found to be approximately equivalent in presenting a cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) peptide to a CTL line in vitro compared with bone marrow (BM)-derived DC and >20-fold more efficient than macrophages or B cells, and >100-fold better than BM-DC, macrophages, or B cells at presenting PADRE, a universal helper T cell epitope, to a T cell clone. The heightened epitope presentation by ProGP-4 DC was paralleled in vivo inasmuch as a >6-fold increase in CTL induction was observed compared with other APC populations following ex vivo loading with peptide. The in vitro and in vivo CTL responses stimulated by ProGP-4 DC could be further augmented by either culturing with tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) or co-loading with PADRE. Collectively, our results indicate that peptide-loaded ProGP-4-generated DC demonstrate potent antigenicity and immunogenicity for CTL, making them an attractive component of epitope-based vaccines.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: HLA class I expression is altered in a significant fraction of the tumor types reviewed here, reflecting either immune pressure or, simply, the accumulation of pathological changes and alterations. However, in all tumor types analyzed, a majority of the tumors express HLA class I, with a general tendency for the more severe alterations to be found in later-stage and less differentiated tumors. These results are encouraging for the development of specific immunotherapies, especially considering that (1) the relatively low sensitivity of immunohistochemical techniques might underestimate HLA expression in tumors, (2) class I expression can be induced in tumor cells as a result of local inflammation and lymphokine release, and (3) class I-negative cells would be predicted to be sensitive to lysis by natural killer cells.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Virus-specific cytotoxic T-lymphocyte (CTL) responses are critical in the control of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection and will play an important part in therapeutic and prophylactic HIV-1 vaccines. The identification of virus-specific epitopes that are efficiently recognized by CTL is the first step in the development of future vaccines. Here we describe the immunological characterization of a number of novel HIV-1-specific, HLA-A2-restricted CTL epitopes that share a high degree of conservation within HIV-1 and a strong binding to different alleles of the HLA-A2 superfamily. These novel epitopes include the first reported CTL epitope in the Vpr protein. Two of the novel epitopes were immunodominant among the HLA-A2-restricted CTL responses of individuals with acute and chronic HIV-1 infection. The novel CTL epitopes identified here should be included in future vaccines designed to induce HIV-1-specific CTL responses restricted by the HLA-A2 superfamily and will be important to assess in immunogenicity studies in infected persons and in uninfected recipients of candidate HIV-1 vaccines.
Journal of Virology 03/2001; 75(3):1301-11. · 5.08 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We have developed efficient methods for epitope identification and vaccine design. Our process for epitope selection based on the combined use of motif analyses, binding assays and immunogenicity evaluations is described. We also describe how the projected population coverage and vaccine design can be optimized. Finally, it is discussed how vaccine potency is evaluated by immunogenicity and antigenicity assays.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Linear carbohydrate-peptide constructs based on the 13 amino acid nonnatural pan DR epitope (PADRE) and carbohydrate B cell epitopes are demonstrated to be potent immunogens. These data support our belief that PADRE should be considered as an alternative to more complex carriers for use in prophylaxis and therapeutic vaccines. Two model carbohydrate-PADRE glycoconjugates were used to demonstrate that PADRE could effectively provide T cell help for carbohydrate-specific Ab responses. Conjugates of PADRE covalently linked to the human milk oligosaccharide, lacto-N-fucopentose II or a dodecasaccharide derived from Salmonella typhimurium O-Ag induced high titer IgG Ab responses in mice, which were comparable to glycoconjugates employing human serum albumin (HSA) as the carrier protein. Different adjuvants, in combination with PADRE conjugates, allowed for the modulation of the isotype profile with alum supporting an IgG1 profile; QS-21 an IgG2a, 2b profile, while an alum/QS-21 mixture generated a balanced IgG1/IgG2b isotype profile. As defined by binding to synthetic glycoconjugates, dodecasaccharide-specific Abs exhibited fine specificity similar to protective polyclonal Ab responses previously reported for dodecasaccharide-protein conjugates. The same Abs bound to intact S. typhimurium cells, suggesting that biologically relevant specificities were produced. The affinity of the dodecasaccharide-specific Abs was further shown to be comparable to that of a well-characterized, high affinity monoclonal anti-carbohydrate Ab recognizing the same epitope.
The Journal of Immunology 03/2000; 164(3):1625-33. · 5.52 Impact Factor