Glycolipid-peptide conjugate vaccines enhance CD8 + T cell responses against human viral proteins

Sci Rep. 2017 Oct 27;7(1):14273. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-14690-5.


An important goal of vaccination against viruses and virus-driven cancers is to elicit cytotoxic CD8+ T cells specific for virus-derived peptides. CD8+ T cell responses can be enhanced by engaging help from natural killer T (NKT) cells. We have produced synthetic vaccines that induce strong peptide-specific CD8+ T cell responses in vivo by incorporating an NKT cell-activating glycolipid. Here we examine the effect of a glycolipid-peptide conjugate vaccine incorporating an NKT cell-activating glycolipid linked to an MHC class I-restricted peptide from a viral antigen in human peripheral blood mononuclear cells. The vaccine induces CD1d-dependent activation of human NKT cells following enzymatic cleavage, activates human dendritic cells in an NKT-cell dependent manner, and generates a pool of activated antigen-specific CD8+ T cells with cytotoxic potential. Compared to unconjugated peptide, the vaccine upregulates expression of genes encoding interferon-γ, CD137 and granzyme B. A similar vaccine incorporating a peptide from the clinically-relevant human papilloma virus (HPV) 16 E7 oncoprotein induces cytotoxicity against peptide-expressing targets in vivo, and elicits a better antitumor response in a model of E7-expressing lung cancer than its unconjugated components. Glycolipid-peptide conjugate vaccines may prove useful for the prevention or treatment of viral infections and tumors that express viral antigens.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Glycolipids / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Lung Neoplasms / virology
  • Lymphocyte Activation / immunology
  • Mice
  • Oncogene Proteins, Viral / immunology*
  • Vaccines, Subunit / chemistry*
  • Vaccines, Subunit / immunology*


  • Glycolipids
  • Oncogene Proteins, Viral
  • Vaccines, Subunit