High-dose IL-2/CD25 fusion protein amplifies vaccine-induced CD4 + and CD8 + neoantigen-specific T cells to promote antitumor immunity

Rosmely Hernandez, Kathryn M. Laporte, Sunnie Hsiung, Alicia Santos Savio, Thomas R. Malek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background Immunization with tumor neoantigens is a promising vaccine approach to promote antitumor immunity due to their high immunogenicity, lack of expression in normal tissue, and preferential induction of tumor neoantigen-specific T cells, which are central mediators of the anti-cancer response. A drawback to targeting tumor neoantigen-specific T cells is that these cells are found at a low frequency in patients with cancer, limiting their therapeutic benefit. Interleukin-2 (IL-2) promotes expansion and persistence of tumor-reactive T cells. However, its clinical use has been hampered by toxicities arising from its multiple cellular targets. Thus, new engineered IL-2 receptor (IL-2R) agonists with distinctive cell type selectivity have been designed to harness the potential of IL-2 for tumor immunotherapy. Methods We investigated the potential to amplify neoantigen-specific CD4 + and CD8 + T cell immune responses to promote antitumor immunity through vaccination with tumor neoantigens. Following T cell receptor (TCR)-mediated induction of the high-Affinity IL-2R on these T cells, amplification of the neoantigen-specific T cell response was achieved using a high dose of the mouse IL-2/CD25 (mIL-2/CD25) fusion protein, an IL-2R agonist with more favorable pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics than IL-2 and selectivity toward the high-Affinity IL-2R. Results Administration of a high dose of mIL-2/CD25 shortly after antigen-dependent induction of the high-Affinity IL-2R amplified the numbers and function of TCR transgenic tumor-reactive tyrosinase-related protein-1 (TRP-1) CD4 + T cells, leading to antitumor immunity to B16-F10 melanoma. This approach was adapted to amplify endogenous polyclonal B16-F10 neoantigen-specific T cells. Maximal expansion of these cells required prime/boost neoantigen vaccinations, where mIL-2/CD25 was optimal when administered only after the boosting steps. The ensuing mIL-2/CD25-driven immune response supported antitumor immunity to B16-F10 and was more effective than treatment with a similar amount of IL-2. Optimal antitumor effects required amplification of CD4 + and CD8 + neoantigen-specific T cells. High-dose mIL-2/CD25 supported a tumor microenvironment with higher numbers of CD4 + and CD8 + T effectors cells with increased granzyme B expression and importantly a more robust expansion of neoantigen-specific T cells. Conclusion These results indicate that neoantigen-based vaccines are optimized by potentiating IL-2R signaling in CD4 + and CD8 + neoantigen-reactive T cells by using high-dose mIL-2/CD25, leading to more effective tumor clearance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere002865
JournalJournal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • CD4-positive T-lymphocytes
  • CD8-Positive T-lymphocytes
  • cytokines
  • melanoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Oncology
  • Pharmacology
  • Cancer Research


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