In spite of remarkable preclinical efficacy, DNA vaccination has demonstrated low immunogenicity in humans. While efforts have focused on increasing cross-presentation of DNA-encoded antigens, efforts to increase DNA vaccine immunogenicity by targeting direct presentation have remained mostly unexplored. In these studies, we compared the ability of different APCs to present antigen to T cells after simple co-culture with plasmid DNA. We found that human primary peripheral B lymphocytes, and not monocytes or in vitro derived dendritic cells (DCs), were able to efficiently encode antigen mRNA and expand cognate tumor antigen-specific CD8 T cells ex vivo. Similarly, murine B lymphocytes co-cultured with plasmid DNA, and not DCs, were able to prime antigen-specific T cells in vivo. Moreover, B lymphocyte-mediated presentation of plasmid antigen led to greater Th1-biased immunity and was sufficient to elicit an anti-tumor effect in vivo. Surprisingly, increasing plasmid presentation by B cells, and not cross presentation of peptides by DCs, further augmented traditional plasmid vaccination. Together, these data suggest that targeting plasmid DNA to B lymphocytes, for example through transfer of ex vivo plasmidloaded B cells, may be novel means to achieve greater T cell immunity from DNA vaccines.
Keywords: B cells; DNA vaccine; Immune response; Immunity; Immunology and Microbiology Section; dendritic cells; direct presentation.