Evaluation of RNA Amplification Methods to Improve DC Immunotherapy Antigen Presentation and Immune Response

Mol Ther Nucleic Acids. 2013 May 7;2(5):e91. doi: 10.1038/mtna.2013.18.


Dendritic cells (DCs) transfected with total amplified tumor cell RNA have the potential to induce broad antitumor immune responses. However, analytical methods required for quantitatively assessing the integrity, fidelity, and functionality of the amplified RNA are lacking. We have developed a series of assays including gel electrophoresis, northern blot, capping efficiency, and microarray analysis to determine integrity and fidelity and a model system to assess functionality after transfection into human DCs. We employed these tools to demonstrate that modifications to our previously reported total cellular RNA amplification process including the use of the Fast Start High Fidelity (FSHF) PCR enzyme, T7 Powerswitch primer, post-transcriptional capping and incorporation of a type 1 cap result in amplification of longer transcripts, greater translational competence, and a higher fidelity representation of the starting total RNA population. To study the properties of amplified RNA after transfection into human DCs, we measured protein expression levels of defined antigens coamplified with the starting total RNA populations and measured antigen-specific T cell expansion in autologous DC-T cell co-cultured in vitro. We conclude from these analyses that the improved RNA amplification process results in superior protein expression levels and a greater capacity of the transfected DCs to induce multifunctional antigen-specific memory T cells.Molecular Therapy-Nucleic Acids (2013) 2, e91; doi:10.1038/mtna.2013.18; published online 7 May 2013.