Eradication of tumors by the immune system relies on the efficient activation of a T-cell response. For many years, the main focus of cancer immunotherapy has been on cytotoxic CD8 T-cell. However, stimulation of CD4 helper T cells is critical for the promotion and maintenance of immune memory, thus a good vaccine should evoke a two-dimensional T-cell response. The invariant chain (Ii) is required for the MHC class II heterodimer to be correctly guided through the cell, loaded with peptide, and expressed on the surface of antigen presenting cells (APC). We previously showed that by replacing the Ii CLIP peptide by an MHC-I cancer peptide, we could efficiently load MHC-I. This prompted us to test whether longer cancer peptides could be loaded on both MHC classes and whether such peptides could be accommodated in the CLIP region of Ii. We here present data showing that expanding the CLIP replacement size leads to T-cell activation. We demonstrate by using long peptides that APCs can present peptides from the same Ii molecule on both MHC-I and -II. In addition, we present evidence that antigen presentation after Ii-loading was superior to an ER-targeted minigene construct, suggesting that ER-localization was not sufficient to obtain efficient MHC-II loading. Finally, we verified that Ii-expressing dendritic cells could prime CD4+ and CD8+ T cells from a naïve population. Taken together our study demonstrates that CLIP peptide replaced Ii constructs fulfill some of the major requirements for an efficient vector for cancer vaccination.
Keywords: T cells; TCR; Vaccines; dendritic cells; invariant chain.