Dendritic cells (DC) are a promising cell type for cancer vaccines due to their high immunostimulatory capacity. However, improper maturation of DC prior to treatment may account for the limited efficacy of DC vaccine clinical trials. Latent Membrane Protein-1 (LMP1) of Epstein-Barr virus was examined for its ability to mature and activate DC as a gene-based molecular adjuvant for DC vaccines. DC were transduced with an adenovirus 5 vector (Ad5) expressing LMP1 under the control of a Tet-inducible promoter. Ad5-LMP1 was found to mature and activate both human and mouse DC. LMP1 enhanced in vitro migration of DC toward CCL19, as well as in vivo migration of DC to the inguinal lymph nodes of mice following intradermal injection. LMP1-transduced DC increased T cell proliferation in a Pmel-1 adoptive transfer model and enhanced survival in B16-F10 melanoma models. LMP1-DC also enhanced protection in a vaccinia-Gag viral challenge assay. LMP1 induced high levels of IL-12p70 secretion in mouse DC when compared to standard maturation protocols. Importantly, LMP1-transduced human DC retained the capacity to secrete IL-12p70 and TNF in response to DC restimulation. In contrast, DC matured with Monocyte Conditioned Media-Mimic cocktail (Mimic) were impaired in IL-12p70 secretion following restimulation. Overall, LMP1 matured and activated DC, induced migration to the lymph node, and generated high levels of IL-12p70 in a murine model. We propose LMP1 as a promising molecular adjuvant for DC vaccines.
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