Congcong Feng

University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas, United States

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Publications (6)15.6 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Although Treg-cell mediated suppression during infection or autoimmunity has been described, functions of Treg cells during highly pathogenic avian influenza virus infection remain poorly characterized. Here we found that in Foxp3-GFP transgenic mice, CD8(+) Foxp3(+) Treg cells, but not CD4(+) Foxp3(+) Treg cells, were remarkably induced during H5N1 infection. In addition to expressing CD25, the CD8(+) Foxp3(+) Treg cells showed a high level of GITR and produced IL-10. In an adoptive transfer model, CD8(+) Treg cells suppressed CD8(+) T cell-responses and promoted H5N1 virus infection, resulting in enhanced mortality and increased virus load in the lung. Furthermore, in vitro neutralization of IL-10 and studies with IL-10R-deficient mice in vitro and in vivo demonstrated an important role for IL-10 production in the capacity of CD8(+) Treg cells to inhibit CD8(+) T cell-responses. Our findings identify a previously unrecognized role of CD8(+) Treg cells in the negative regulation of CD8(+) T cell-responses and suggest that modulation of CD8(+) Treg cells may be a therapeutic strategy to control H5N1 viral infection. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
    European Journal of Immunology 09/2013; · 4.97 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The p42.3 gene was recently identified and characterized as having tumor-specific and mitosis phase-dependent expression in many types of cancer. This suggested that p42.3 antigen could be used as a target for vaccines against cancers. In this study, we immunized C57BL/6 mice with a DNA vaccine encoding p42.3. We used intramuscular injection with electroporation, either before or after challenge with tumor B16F10 cells. Vaccination with pcDNA3-p42.3 induced some degree of antitumor effect both therapeutically and prophylactically, as evaluated by the inhibition of tumor growth and decrease in tumor weight. Immunized mice showed a high level of specific cytotoxic activity against the p42.3 protein in vivo and had activated CD8 T cells that secreted IFN-γ, perforin, and granzyme B in response to stimulation with the antigen in vitro. Thus, this study presents the DNA vaccination against novel tumor target p42.3 as a promising antitumor modality.
    Human vaccines & immunotherapeutics. 06/2013; 9(10).
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    ABSTRACT: Incorporation of molecular adjuvants into DNA vaccines is often used to improve the induction of immune responses, but few approaches aim to specifically activate B cells for an enhanced humoral response only. Hemokinin-1 (HK-1) is a factor that activates B cells for proliferation, survival, differentiation into plasma cells, and Ab production. Therefore, we investigated if it may be used as a molecular adjuvant for DNA vaccines to elicit strong humoral and memory responses. The HK-1 coding sequence was sub-cloned as single or triple copies in-frame downstream of S2 HBsAg in the proVAX/S2 construct. Compared to mice immunized with proVAX/S2 or proVAX/S2-HK-1, proVAX/S2-3HK-1 induced a higher level of IgG production, a higher percentage of differentiated antibody-secreting plasma cells, and a higher level of T-cell proliferation. Furthermore, a higher proportion of B cells had the B220(+)CD27(+) phenotype in these groups, and specific antigen re-challenge induced a higher level of total IgG production 60 d after the last immunization, suggesting that the use of HK-1 as an adjuvant promoted immunological memory. Taken together, these results suggest that using HK-1 as an adjuvant molecule could enhance the immunogenicity of HBsAg DNA vaccines, and result in stronger humoral and memory responses. Therefore, HK-1 may lead to the development of a novel humoral-biased molecular adjuvant for an HBsAg DNA vaccine against hepatitis B infection.
    Viral immunology 08/2012; 25(4):289-96. · 1.78 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Interleukin-21 (IL-21) is a T-cell-derived cytokine that modulates T-cell, B-cell, and natural killer cell responses. It is not known if it could be used as an adjuvant for HIV DNA vaccination. In our study, we investigated if a DNA construct expressing IL-21 (designated as pVAX-IL-21) as a molecule adjuvant could enhance antigen-specific immune responses to an HIV DNA vaccine (pGX-EnvC). We found that a higher level of antigen-specific cytotoxic responses was induced in BALB/C mice immunized with pGX-EnvC with the pVAX-IL-21 via electroporation. The increased response was associated with higher expression of IFN-γ in CD8⁺ T cells. In contrast, the administration of pVAX-IL-21 inhibited the antibody responses to HIV induced by the pGX-EnvC. The plasma cell inhibitory transcription factors B-cell lymphoma 6 protein (Bcl-6) and Pax-5 were increased in B cells from mice that had been immunized by HIV DNA vaccine plus pVAX-IL-21, suggesting that the expressed IL-21 may inhibit the differentiation from B cells to plasma cells. These results indicate that IL-21 could enhance CD8⁺ T-cell immunity, but inhibit humoral responses during HIV DNA vaccination.
    Viral immunology 04/2012; 25(2):131-40. · 1.78 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: H5N1 is a highly pathogenic influenza A virus, which can cause severe illness or even death in humans. Although the widely used killed vaccines are able to provide some protection against infection via neutralizing antibodies, cytotoxic T-lymphocyte responses that are thought to eradicate viral infections are lacking. Aiming to promote cytotoxic responses against H5N1 infection, we extended our previous finding that praziquantel (PZQ) can act as an adjuvant to induce IL-17-producing CD8(+) T cells (Tc17). We found that a single immunization of 57BL/6 mice with killed viral vaccine plus PZQ induced antigen-specific Tc17 cells, some of which also secreted IFN-γ. The induced Tc17 had cytolytic activities. Induction of these cells was impaired in CD8 knockout (KO) or IFN-γ KO mice, and was even lower in IL-17 KO mice. Importantly, the inoculation of killed vaccine with PZQ significantly reduced virus loads in the lung tissues and prolonged survival. Protection against H5N1 virus infection was obtained by adoptively transferring PZQ-primed wild type CD8(+) T cells and this was more effective than transfer of activated IFN-γ KO or IL-17 KO CD8(+) T cells. Our results demonstrated that adding PZQ to killed H5N1 vaccine could promote broad Tc17-mediated cytotoxic T lymphocyte activity, resulting in improved control of highly pathogenic avian influenza virus infection.
    PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(4):e34865. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: CD8(+) cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) are crucial for eliminating hepatitis B virus (HBV) infected cells. DNA vaccination, a novel therapeutic strategy for chronic virus infection, has been shown to induce CTL responses. However, accumulated data have shown that CTLs could not be effectively induced by HBV DNA vaccination. Here, we report that praziquantel (PZQ), an anti-schistoma drug, could act as an adjuvant to overcome the lack of potent CTL responses by HBV DNA vaccination in mice. PZQ in combination with HBV DNA vaccination augmented the induction of CD8(+) T cell-dependent and HBV-specific delayed hypersensitivity responses (DTH) in C57BL/6 mice. Furthermore, the induced CD8(+) T cells consisted of both Tc1 and Tc17 subtypes. By using IFN-γ knockout (KO) mice and IL-17 KO mice, both cytokines were found to be involved in the DTH. The relevance of these findings to HBV immunization was established in HBsAg transgenic mice, in which PZQ also augmented the induction of HBV-specific Tc1 and Tc17 cells and resulted in reduction of HBsAg positive hepatocytes. Adoptive transfer experiments further showed that PZQ-primed CD8(+) T cells from wild type mice, but not the counterpart from IFN-γ KO or IL-17 KO mice, resulted in elimination of HBsAg positive hepatocytes. Our results suggest that PZQ is an effective adjuvant to facilitate Tc1 and Tc17 responses to HBV DNA vaccination, inducing broad CD8(+) T cell-based immunotherapy that breaks tolerance to HBsAg.
    PLoS ONE 01/2011; 6(10):e25525. · 3.53 Impact Factor