Induction of tumor-specific CTL responses using the C-terminal fragment of Viral protein R as cell penetrating peptide

Sci Rep. 2019 Mar 8;9(1):3937. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-40594-7.


The discovery of tumor-associated antigens recognized by T lymphocytes opens the possibility of vaccinating cancer patients with defined antigens. However, one of the major limitation of peptide-based vaccines is the low immunogenicity of antigenic peptides. Interestingly, if these epitopes are directly delivered into the cytoplasm of antigen presenting cells, they can be efficiently presented via the direct MHC class I presentation pathway. To improve antigen entry, one promising approach is the use of cell penetrating peptides (CPPs). However, most studies use a covalent binding of the CPP with the antigen. In the present study, we focused on the C-terminal domain of Vpr which was previously demonstrated to efficiently deliver plasmid DNA into cells. We provide evidence that the peptides Vpr55-91 and Vpr55-82 possess the capacity of delivering proteins and epitopes into cell lines as well as into human primary dendritic cells, without the necessicity for a chemical linkage. Moreover, immunization of HLA-A2 transgenic mice with Vpr55-91 as the sole adjuvant is able to induce antigen-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes against multiple tumor epitopes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Antigen Presentation / immunology
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / genetics
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / immunology
  • CHO Cells
  • Cancer Vaccines / genetics
  • Cancer Vaccines / immunology
  • Cell Line
  • Cell-Penetrating Peptides / genetics
  • Cell-Penetrating Peptides / immunology*
  • Cricetulus
  • Drug Delivery Systems
  • Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte / genetics
  • Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte / immunology
  • Gene Products, vpr / genetics
  • Gene Products, vpr / immunology*
  • HLA-A2 Antigen / genetics
  • HLA-A2 Antigen / immunology
  • Hep G2 Cells
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Peptide Fragments / genetics
  • Peptide Fragments / immunology
  • Protein Transport
  • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic / immunology*
  • Vaccines, Subunit / genetics
  • Vaccines, Subunit / immunology


  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • Cancer Vaccines
  • Cell-Penetrating Peptides
  • Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte
  • Gene Products, vpr
  • HLA-A*02:01 antigen
  • HLA-A2 Antigen
  • Peptide Fragments
  • Vaccines, Subunit