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1.  Combination Therapy with Local Radiofrequency Ablation and Systemic Vaccine Enhances Antitumor Immunity and Mediates Local and Distal Tumor Regression 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e70417.
Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is a minimally invasive energy delivery technique increasingly used for focal therapy to eradicate localized disease. RFA-induced tumor-cell necrosis generates an immunogenic source of tumor antigens known to induce antitumor immune responses. However, RFA-induced antitumor immunity is insufficient to control metastatic progression. We sought to characterize (a) the role of RFA dose on immunogenic modulation of tumor and generation of immune responses and (b) the potential synergy between vaccine immunotherapy and RFA aimed at local tumor control and decreased systemic progression.
Experimental Design
Murine colon carcinoma cells expressing the tumor-associated (TAA) carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) (MC38-CEA+) were studied to examine the effect of sublethal hyperthermia in vitro on the cells’ phenotype and sensitivity to CTL-mediated killing. The effect of RFA dose was investigated in vivo impacting (a) the phenotype and growth of MC38-CEA+ tumors and (b) the induction of tumor-specific immune responses. Finally, the molecular signature was evaluated as well as the potential synergy between RFA and poxviral vaccines expressing CEA and a TRIad of COstimulatory Molecules (CEA/TRICOM).
In vitro, sublethal hyperthermia of MC38-CEA+ cells (a) increased cell-surface expression of CEA, Fas, and MHC class I molecules and (b) rendered tumor cells more susceptible to CTL-mediated lysis. In vivo, RFA induced (a) immunogenic modulation on the surface of tumor cells and (b) increased T-cell responses to CEA and additional TAAs. Combination therapy with RFA and vaccine in CEA-transgenic mice induced a synergistic increase in CD4+ T-cell immune responses to CEA and eradicated both primary CEA+ and distal CEA– s.c. tumors. Sequential administration of low-dose and high-dose RFA with vaccine decreased tumor recurrence compared to RFA alone. These studies suggest a potential clinical benefit in combining RFA with vaccine in cancer patients, and augment support for this novel translational paradigm.
PMCID: PMC3722166  PMID: 23894654
2.  Human Monoclonal Antibody Combination against SARS Coronavirus: Synergy and Coverage of Escape Mutants 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(7):e237.
Experimental animal data show that protection against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) infection with human monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) is feasible. For an effective immune prophylaxis in humans, broad coverage of different strains of SARS-CoV and control of potential neutralization escape variants will be required. Combinations of virus-neutralizing, noncompeting mAbs may have these properties.
Methods and Findings
Human mAb CR3014 has been shown to completely prevent lung pathology and abolish pharyngeal shedding of SARS-CoV in infected ferrets. We generated in vitro SARS-CoV variants escaping neutralization by CR3014, which all had a single P462L mutation in the glycoprotein spike (S) of the escape virus. In vitro experiments confirmed that binding of CR3014 to a recombinant S fragment (amino acid residues 318–510) harboring this mutation was abolished. We therefore screened an antibody-phage library derived from blood of a convalescent SARS patient for antibodies complementary to CR3014. A novel mAb, CR3022, was identified that neutralized CR3014 escape viruses, did not compete with CR3014 for binding to recombinant S1 fragments, and bound to S1 fragments derived from the civet cat SARS-CoV-like strain SZ3. No escape variants could be generated with CR3022. The mixture of both mAbs showed neutralization of SARS-CoV in a synergistic fashion by recognizing different epitopes on the receptor-binding domain. Dose reduction indices of 4.5 and 20.5 were observed for CR3014 and CR3022, respectively, at 100% neutralization. Because enhancement of SARS-CoV infection by subneutralizing antibody concentrations is of concern, we show here that anti-SARS-CoV antibodies do not convert the abortive infection of primary human macrophages by SARS-CoV into a productive one.
The combination of two noncompeting human mAbs CR3014 and CR3022 potentially controls immune escape and extends the breadth of protection. At the same time, synergy between CR3014 and CR3022 may allow for a lower total antibody dose to be administered for passive immune prophylaxis of SARS-CoV infection.
Editors' Summary
Late in 2002, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) emerged in the Guangdong province of China. In February 2003, an infected doctor from the province carried this new viral threat to human health to Hong Kong. Here, people staying in the same hotel caught the disease and took it to other countries. SARS was on the move, hitching lifts with international travellers. Because the virus responsible for SARS—SARS-CoV—spread by close person-to-person contact and killed 10% of the people it infected, health experts feared a world-wide epidemic. This was avoided by the World Health Organization issuing a global alert and warning against unnecessary travel to affected areas and by public-health officials isolating patients and their close contacts. By July 2003, the first SARS epidemic was over. 8,098 people had been infected; 774 people had died. Since then, sporadic cases of SARS have been contained locally.
Why Was This Study Done?
The first epidemic of SARS was caused by an animal virus that became adapted to spread between people. There is no reason this process won't be repeated. If it is, stringent quarantine measures could again prevent a global epidemic, but at considerable economic cost. What is needed is a way to prevent SARS developing in healthy people who have been exposed to SARS-CoV and to treat sick people so that they are less infectious and can fight the virus. In this study, researchers have been investigating “passive immunization” as a way to limit SARS epidemics. In passive immunization, short-term protection against illness is achieved by injecting antibodies—proteins that recognize specific molecules (called antigens) on foreign organisms such as bacteria and viruses and prevent those organisms from causing disease. Antibodies for passive immunization can be isolated from blood taken from people who have had SARS, or they can be manufactured as so-called “human monoclonal antibodies” in a laboratory. One of these human monoclonal antibodies—CR3014—had been previously made and shown to prevent lung damage in ferrets infected with SARS-CoV and to stop the infected animals from infecting others. But for effective disease prevention in people, a single monoclonal antibody might not be enough. There are strains of SARS-CoV that CR3014 does not recognize and therefore cannot act against. Also, the virus can alter the antigen recognized by CR3014 when it is grown at a low antibody concentration, producing so-called escape variants; if this happens CR3014 can no longer prevent these escape variants from killing human cells.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers tested how well a combination of two monoclonal antibodies controlled SARS-CoV killing of human cells. First, they showed that CR3014 escape variants all had the same small change in a part of the virus surface that interacts with human cells. CR3014 blocked this interaction in the parent SARS-CoV strain but not in the escape variants. They then made a new monoclonal antibody—CR3022—that prevented both the parent SARS-CoV stain and the CR3014 escape viruses from killing human cells. The two antibodies bound to neighboring parts of the virus surface, and both of them could bind at the same time. CR3022 also bound to surfaces of SARS-CoV strains to which CR3014 does not bind. And when they tried, the researchers could not generate any viral escape variants to which CR3022 was unable to bind. Finally, the effect of the two antibodies together on inhibition of SARS-CoV killing of human cells was more than the sum of their individual effects.
What Do These Findings Mean?
A combination of two (or more) human monoclonal antibodies that recognize different parts of the SARS-CoV surface that interacts with human cells might be a good way to immunize people passively against SARS-CoV. It might minimize the possibility of escape variants arising, broaden the range of virus strains against which protection is provided, and reduce the amount of antibody needed for effective protection. Before the approach is tried in people, it will have to be tested in animals—results from experiments done on human cells in dishes are not always replicated in whole animals or people. If the approach passes further tests, the hope is that passive immunization of people with SARS and their close contacts might reduce disease severity in infected people and reduce viral spread as effectively as dramatic quarantine measures
Additional Information.
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
• Medline Plus pages on SARS
• US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention information on SARS
• US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases factsheet about research on SARS
• Wikipedia page on SARS and monoclonal antibodies (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit)
Two human monoclonal antibodies that bind to different parts of the viral glycoprotein spike show synergistic effects in virus neutralization and suppress the emergence of resistant virus in vitro.
PMCID: PMC1483912  PMID: 16796401
3.  Inhibition and promotion of tumor growth with adeno-associated virus carcinoembryonic antigen vaccine and Toll like receptor agonists 
Cancer gene therapy  2011;18(12):850-858.
Carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) is a cancer vaccines target. Several feature of recombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV) are attractive for vaccine applications. Combining other viral vector vaccines with Toll like receptor (TLR) agonists enhances antitumor immunity. Wild-type and CEA transgenic (Tg) mice were immunized with rAAV expressing CEA, the TLR9 agonist, ODN1826, and the TLR7 agonist, imiquimod. Mice were challenged with MC38 colon tumor cells and MC38 cells expressing CEA. rAAV-CEA immunization combined with ODN1826 or imiquimod enhanced CEA-specific T-helper-1 immunity and protected against tumor challenge in wild-type but not in CEA-Tg mice. In contrast, immunization with rAAV-CEA in CEA-Tg mice could abrogate the antitumor effects of ODN1826 and promote tumor growth. Compared to wild-type, CEA-Tg mice were characterized by a greater myeloid suppressor cell and T-helper 2 response to TLR agonists and to syngeneic tumors. Depleting PDCA1+ plasmacytoid dendritic cells and Gr1+ myeloid cells increased anti-CEA immune responses in CEA-Tg mice to rAAV-CEA-ODN1826 immunization; depleting CD25+ T cells did not. There are differences in the response of wild-type and CEA-Tg mice to rAAV-CEA, TLR agonists, and syngeneic tumor. In CEA-Tg mice tumor growth can be promoted with rAAV-CEA and TLR agonists. Dendritic and myeloid cells play a regulatory role.
PMCID: PMC4143190  PMID: 21869824
toll like receptors; dendritic cells; myeloid suppressor cells; regulatory T cells; Thelper cells
4.  Co-delivery of antigen and IL-12 by Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus replicon particles enhances antigen-specific immune responses and anti-tumor effects 
Cancer immunology, immunotherapy : CII  2012;61(11):10.1007/s00262-012-1248-y.
We recently demonstrated that Venezuelan equine encephalitis (VEE) virus-based replicon particles (VRP) encoding tumor antigens could break tolerance in the immunomodulatory environment of advanced cancer. We hypothesized that local injection of VRP expressing Interleukin-12 (IL-12) at the site of injections of VRP-based cancer vaccines would enhance the tumor-antigen-specific T cell and antibody responses and anti-tumor efficacy. Mice were immunized with VRP encoding the human tumor-associated antigen, carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) (VRP-CEA(6D)) and VRP-IL-12 was also administered at the same site or at a distant location. CEA-specific T cell and antibody responses were measured. To determine antitumor activity, mice were implanted with MC38-CEA-2 cells and immunized with VRP-CEA with and without VRP-IL-12 and tumor growth and mouse survival were measured. VRP-IL-12 greatly enhanced CEA-specific T cell and antibody responses when combined with VRP-CEA(6D) vaccination. VRP IL-12 was superior to IL-12 protein at enhancing immune responses. Vaccination with VRP-CEA(6D) plus VRP-IL-12 was superior to VRP-CEA(6D) or VRP-IL-12 alone in inducing anti-tumor activity and prolonging survival in tumor-bearing mice. Importantly, local injection of VRP-IL-12 at the VRP-CEA(6D) injection site provided more potent activation of CEA-specific immune responses than VRP-IL-12 injected at a distant site from the VRP-CEA injections. Together, this study shows that VRP-IL-12 enhances vaccination with VRP-CEA(6D) and was more effective at activating CEA-specific T cell responses when locally expressed at the vaccine site. Clinical trials evaluating the adjuvant effect of VRP-IL-12 at enhancing the immunogenicity of cancer vaccines are warranted.
PMCID: PMC3873731  PMID: 22488274
Interleukin-12; cancer vaccine; CEA; alphavirus
5.  Fully human IgG and IgM antibodies directed against the carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) Gold 4 epitope and designed for radioimmunotherapy (RIT) of colorectal cancers 
BMC Cancer  2004;4:75.
Human monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) are needed for colon cancer radioimmunotherapy (RIT) to allow for repeated injections. Carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) being the reference antigen for immunotargeting of these tumors, we developed human anti-CEA MAbs.
XenoMouse®-G2 animals were immunized with CEA. Among all the antibodies produced, two of them, VG-IgG2κ and VG-IgM, were selected for characterization in vitro in comparison with the human-mouse chimeric anti-CEA MAb X4 using flow cytometry, surface plasmon resonance, and binding to radiolabeled soluble CEA and in vivo in human colon carcinoma LS174T bearing nude mice.
Flow cytometry analysis demonstrated binding of MAbs on CEA-expressing cells without any binding on NCA-expressing human granulocytes. In a competitive binding assay using five reference MAbs, directed against the five Gold CEA epitopes, VG-IgG2κ and VG-IgM were shown to be directed against the Gold 4 epitope. The affinities of purified VG-IgG2κ and VG-IgM were determined to be 0.19 ± 0.06 × 108 M-1 and 1.30 ± 0.06 × 108 M-1, respectively, as compared with 0.61 ± 0.05 × 108 M-1 for the reference MAb X4. In a soluble phase assay, the binding capacities of VG-IgG2κ and VG-IgM to soluble CEA were clearly lower than that of the control chimeric MAb X4. A human MAb concentration of about 10-7 M was needed to precipitate approximatively 1 ng 125I-rhCEA as compared with 10-9 M for MAb X4, suggesting a preferential binding of the human MAbs to solid phase CEA. In vivo, 24 h post-injection, 125I-VG-IgG2κ demonstrated a high tumor uptake (25.4 ± 7.3%ID/g), close to that of 131I-X4 (21.7 ± 7.2%ID/g). At 72 h post-injection, 125I-VG-IgG2κ was still concentrated in the tumor (28.4 ± 11.0%ID/g) whereas the tumor concentration of 131I-X4 was significantly reduced (12.5 ± 4.8%ID/g). At no time after injection was there any accumulation of the radiolabeled MAbs in normal tissues. A pertinent analysis of VG-IgM biodistribution was not possible in this mouse model in which IgM displays a very short half-life due to poly-Ig receptor expression in the liver.
Our human anti-CEA IgG2κ is a promising candidate for radioimmunotherapy in intact form, as F(ab')2 fragments, or as a bispecific antibody.
PMCID: PMC526287  PMID: 15488142
6.  Characterization of Genetically Modified T-Cell Receptors that Recognize the CEA:691-699 Peptide in the Context of HLA-A2.1 on Human Colorectal Cancer Cells 
Carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) is a tumor-associated protein expressed on a variety of adenocarcinomas. To develop an immunotherapy for patients with cancers that overexpress CEA, we isolated and genetically modified a T-cell receptors (TCRs) that specifically bound a CEA peptide on human cancer cells.
Experimental Design
HLA-A2.1 transgenic mice were immunized with CEA:691-699. A CEA-reactive TCR was isolated from splenocytes of these mice and was genetically introduced into human peripheral blood lymphocytes via RNA electroporation or retroviral transduction. Amino acid substitutions were introduced throughout the complementarity determining regions (CDR1, CDR2, and CDR3) of both TCR α and β chains to improve recognition of CEA.
Murine lymphocytes bearing the CEA-reactive TCR specifically recognized peptide-loaded T2 cells and HLA-A2.1+ CEA+ human colon cancer cells. Both CD8+ and CD4+ human lymphocytes expressing the murine TCR specifically recognized peptide-loaded T2 cells. However, only gene-modified CD8+ lymphocytes specifically recognized HLA-A2.1+ CEA+ colon cancer cell lines, and tumor cell recognition was weak and variable. We identified two substitutions in the CDR3 of the α chain that significantly influenced tumor cell recognition by human peripheral blood lymphocytes. One substitution, T for S at position 112 (S112T), enhanced tumor cell recognition by CD8+ lymphocytes, and a second dually substituted receptor (S112T L110F) enhanced tumor cell recognition by CD4+ T cells.
The modified CEA-reactive TCRs are good candidates for future gene therapy clinical trials and show the power of selected amino acid substitutions in the antigen-binding regions of the TCR to enhance desired reactivities.
PMCID: PMC3474199  PMID: 19118044
7.  Vaccine Efficacy in Senescent Mice Challenged with Recombinant SARS-CoV Bearing Epidemic and Zoonotic Spike Variants  
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(12):e525.
In 2003, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) was identified as the etiological agent of severe acute respiratory syndrome, a disease characterized by severe pneumonia that sometimes results in death. SARS-CoV is a zoonotic virus that crossed the species barrier, most likely originating from bats or from other species including civets, raccoon dogs, domestic cats, swine, and rodents. A SARS-CoV vaccine should confer long-term protection, especially in vulnerable senescent populations, against both the 2003 epidemic strains and zoonotic strains that may yet emerge from animal reservoirs. We report the comprehensive investigation of SARS vaccine efficacy in young and senescent mice following homologous and heterologous challenge.
Methods and Findings
Using Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus replicon particles (VRP) expressing the 2003 epidemic Urbani SARS-CoV strain spike (S) glycoprotein (VRP-S) or the nucleocapsid (N) protein from the same strain (VRP-N), we demonstrate that VRP-S, but not VRP-N vaccines provide complete short- and long-term protection against homologous strain challenge in young and senescent mice. To test VRP vaccine efficacy against a heterologous SARS-CoV, we used phylogenetic analyses, synthetic biology, and reverse genetics to construct a chimeric virus (icGDO3-S) encoding a synthetic S glycoprotein gene of the most genetically divergent human strain, GDO3, which clusters among the zoonotic SARS-CoV. icGD03-S replicated efficiently in human airway epithelial cells and in the lungs of young and senescent mice, and was highly resistant to neutralization with antisera directed against the Urbani strain. Although VRP-S vaccines provided complete short-term protection against heterologous icGD03-S challenge in young mice, only limited protection was seen in vaccinated senescent animals. VRP-N vaccines not only failed to protect from homologous or heterologous challenge, but resulted in enhanced immunopathology with eosinophilic infiltrates within the lungs of SARS-CoV–challenged mice. VRP-N–induced pathology presented at day 4, peaked around day 7, and persisted through day 14, and was likely mediated by cellular immune responses.
This study identifies gaps and challenges in vaccine design for controlling future SARS-CoV zoonosis, especially in vulnerable elderly populations. The availability of a SARS-CoV virus bearing heterologous S glycoproteins provides a robust challenge inoculum for evaluating vaccine efficacy against zoonotic strains, the most likely source of future outbreaks.
Experiments in mice suggest challenges in vaccine design for controlling future SARS-CoV zoonosis, especially in vulnerable elderly populations.
Editors' Summary
Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is a flu-like illness and was first recognized in China in 2002, after which the disease rapidly spread around the world. SARS was associated with high death rates, much higher than those for flu. Around 10% of people recognized as being infected with SARS died, and the death rate approached 50% among elderly people. The virus causing SARS was identified as a member of the coronavirus family; it is generally thought that this virus “jumped” to humans from bats, which harbor related viruses. Although SARS was declared eradicated by the World Health Organization in May 2005, there is still the possibility that similar viruses will again cross the species barrier and infect humans, with potentially serious consequences. As a result, many groups are working to develop vaccines that will protect against SARS infection.
Why Was This Study Done?
A SARS vaccine should be effective in people of all ages, including the elderly who are more likely to get seriously ill or die if they become infected. In addition, potential vaccines should protect against different variants of the virus, because there are different types of the virus that could potentially cross the species barrier from animals to humans. Of the different proteins that make up the SARS coronavirus, the spike glycoprotein is thought to elicit an immune response in humans that can protect against future infection. The researchers therefore examined vaccine candidates based on this particular protein (termed SARS-CoV S), as well as a second one called SARS-CoV N, in mice. Specifically, they tested whether the vaccines would protect against SARS infection in both young and older mice, and whether they would protect against infection by different strains of the SARS virus.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers created vaccines based on SARS-CoV S and SARS-CoV N by taking the genes coding for those proteins and inserting them into another type of virus particle that acted as a delivery vehicle. They injected mice with these vaccines and then tested whether the mice generated an immune response against the specific SARS proteins, which they did. The next step was to work out whether mice injected with the vaccines would be protected against later infection with SARS-CoV. The researchers found that mice injected with vaccine based on SARS-CoV S were protected against later infection with a standard SARS-CoV strain, both in the short term (eight weeks after vaccination) and the long term (54 weeks after vaccination). However, the vaccine based on SARS-CoV N did not seem to result in protection, and, worryingly, caused pathological changes in the lungs of mice following virus challenge. To find out if their candidate vaccines would protect against different strains of SARS, the researchers made a synthetic test virus that contained a mixture of genetic material from different natural variants of the virus. This test virus was used to “challenge” mice that had been immunized with the two different vaccines. The researchers found that the vaccine based on SARS-CoV S protected against infection by the test virus when mice were vaccinated young, but it failed to efficiently protect when administered to older mice.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The findings confirm others suggesting that vaccines based on the SARS-CoV S protein are more effective than those based on SARS-CoV N. They also suggest that the former can provide long-term protection in animals vaccinated young against closely related viruses. However, protection against more distantly related viruses remains a challenge, especially when vaccinating older animals. The differences seen between young and older mice suggest that older mice might provide a useful model for animal testing of candidate vaccines for diseases like SARS, flu, and West Nile virus that pose a particular threat to elderly people. Overall, these results provide useful lessons toward future SARS vaccine development in animals. The synthetic virus strain generated here, and others like it, are likely to be useful tools for such future studies.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
• The World Health Organization provides guidance, archives, and other information resources on SARS
• Information from the US Centers for Disease Control on SARS
• Wikipedia (an internet encyclopedia anyone can edit) has an entry on SARS
• Collected resources from MedLinePlus about SARS
PMCID: PMC1716185  PMID: 17194199
8.  Potent induction of B- and T-cell immunity against human carcinoembryonic antigen-expressing tumors in human carcinoembryonic antigen transgenic mice mediated by direct lentivector injection 
Molecular cancer therapeutics  2009;8(3):692-702.
The applicability of immunotherapy would be dramatically broadened to a greater number of recipients if direct “off-the-shelf” products could be engineered to engender functionally potent immune responses against true “self”-tumor antigens. This would obviate the need for ex vivo culture of dendritic cells or T cells on a patient-by-patient basis, for example. The carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) is a glycoprotein expressed in normal gut epithelium that is up-regulated in the majority of colon cancers, non-small cell lung cancers, and half of all breast cancers. Such properties make CEA an excellent and important target for cancer immunotherapy. In this study, we show stabilization of 14-day established s.c. mGC4CEA tumors in human CEA (huCEA) transgenic mice following two direct low-dose injections of 0.15 × 106 transducing units of a lentiviral vector (LV) that directs expression of huCEA (LV-huCEA). This stabilization result was reproducible and detailed analyses including antibody assays, multiplex cytokine analyses on unstimulated splenocytes, lymph node cell characterizations, tetramer staining, and immunofluorescence staining of tumor sections showed that this outcome correlated with both a cellular and humoral immune response. Similar tumor outcomes were not seen when mice were vaccinated with a control LV that engineered expression of enGFP only. The long-term potency of this vaccination strategy was also studied and revealed the requirement for maintenance of tumor antigen-specific immunity for efficient tumor control. These data support the use of direct injections of low doses of LV-huCEA for enhancement of tumor immunotherapy directed against CEA.
PMCID: PMC2846382  PMID: 19276164
9.  A novel minigene scaffold for therapeutic cancer vaccines 
Oncoimmunology  2014;3:e27529.
Genetic vaccines are emerging as a powerful modality to induce T-cell responses to target tumor associated antigens (TAA). Viral or plasmid DNA or RNA vectors harbor an expression cassette encoding the antigen of choice delivered in vivo by vaccination. In this context, immunizations with minigenes containing selected, highly antigenic, T-cell epitopes of TAAs may have several advantages relative to full-length proteins. The objective of this study was to identify an optimal scaffold for minigene construction. We generated a number of minigenes containing epitopes from the carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) model TAA and utilized muscle DNA electro-gene-transfer (DNA-EGT) to vaccinate HLA-A*0201 (HHD) and CEA/HHD double transgenic mice. The components utilized to construct the minigenes included CD8+ T cell epitopes and (or) anchor modified analogs that were selected on the basis of their predicted binding to HLA-*A0201, their uniqueness in the human proteome, and the likelihood of cancer cell natural processing and presentation via MHC-I. Other candidate components comparatively tested included: helper CD4+ T-cell epitopes, flanking regions for optimal epitope processing (including both proteasome-dependent and furin-dependent polypeptide processing mechanisms), and immunoenhancing moieties. Through a series of comparative studies and iterations we have identified an optimal minigene scaffold comprising the following elements: human tissue plasminogen activator (TPA) signal peptide, T-cell epitopes connected by furin sensitive linkers, and the E. Coli enterotoxin B subunit. The selected epitope modified minigenes (EMM) delivered by DNA-EGT were able to break immune tolerance in CEA/HHD mice and induce a strong immune response against all epitopes tested, independently of their relative positions within the scaffold. Furthermore, the optimized EMMs delivered via DNA-EGT were more immunogenic and exerted more powerful antitumor effects in a B16-CEA/HHD metastatic melanoma model than a DNA vector encoding the full-length protein or a mixture of the same peptides injected subcutaneously. Our data may shed light on the optimal design of a universal vehicle for epitope-targeted, genetic cancer vaccines.
PMCID: PMC4002591  PMID: 24790791
cancer vaccine; epitope prediction; minigene
10.  Characterization of gastric adenocarcinoma cell lines established from CEA424/SV40 T antigen-transgenic mice with or without a human CEA transgene 
BMC Cancer  2006;6:57.
Gastric carcinoma is one of the most frequent cancers worldwide. Patients with gastric cancer at an advanced disease stage have a poor prognosis, due to the limited efficacy of available therapies. Therefore, the development of new therapies, like immunotherapy for the treatment of gastric cancer is of utmost importance. Since the usability of existing preclinical models for the evaluation of immunotherapies for gastric adenocarcinomas is limited, the goal of the present study was to establish murine in vivo models which allow the stepwise improvement of immunotherapies for gastric cancer.
Since no murine gastric adenocarcinoma cell lines are available we established four cell lines (424GC, mGC3, mGC5, mGC8) from spontaneously developing tumors of CEA424/SV40 T antigen (CEA424/Tag) mice and three cell lines derived from double-transgenic offsprings of CEA424/Tag mice mated with human carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA)-transgenic (CEA424/Tag-CEA) mice (mGC2CEA, mGC4CEA, mGC11CEA). CEA424/Tag is a transgenic C57BL/6 mouse strain harboring the Tag under the control of a -424/-8 bp CEA gene promoter which leads to the development of invasive adenocarcinoma in the glandular stomach. Tumor cell lines established from CEA424/Tag-CEA mice express the well defined tumor antigen CEA under the control of its natural regulatory elements.
The epithelial origin of the tumor cells was proven by morphological criteria including the presence of mucin within the cells and the expression of the cell adhesion molecules EpCAM and CEACAM1. All cell lines consistently express the transgenes CEA and/or Tag and MHC class I molecules leading to their susceptibility to lysis by Tag-specific CTL in vitro. Despite the presentation of CTL-epitopes derived from the transgene products the tumor cell lines were tumorigenic when grafted into C57BL/6, CEA424/Tag or CEA424/Tag-CEA-transgenic hosts and no significant differences in tumor take and tumor growth were observed in the different hosts. Although no spontaneous tumor rejection was observed, vaccination of C57BL/6 mice with lysates from gastric carcinoma cell lines protected C57BL/6 mice from tumor challenge, demonstrating the tumorigenicity of the tumor cell lines in nontransgenic mice of the H-2b haplotype.
These tumor cell lines grafted in different syngeneic hosts should prove to be very useful to optimize immunotherapy regimens to be finally tested in transgenic animals developing primary gastric carcinomas.
PMCID: PMC1421424  PMID: 16536871
Vaccine  2011;29(50):9361-9367.
While many tumor associated antigens (TAAs) have been identified in human cancers, efforts to develop efficient TAA “cancer vaccines” using classical vaccine approaches have been largely ineffective. Recently, a process to specifically target proteins to exosomes has been established [1] which takes advantage of the ability of the Factor V like C1C2 domain of lactadherin to specifically address proteins to exosomes. Using this approach, we hypothesized that TAAs could be targeted to exosomes to potentially increase their immunogenicity, as exosomes have been demonstrated to traffic to antigen presenting cells (APC) [2]. To investigate this possibility, we created adenoviral vectors expressing the extracellular domain (ECD) of two non-mutated TAAs often found in tumors of cancer patients, carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) and HER2, and coupled them to the C1C2 domain of lactadherin. We found that these C1C2 fusion proteins had enhanced expression in exosomes in vitro. We saw significant improvement in antigen specific immune responses to each of these antigens in naïve and tolerant transgenic animal models and could further demonstrate significantly enhanced therapeutic anti-tumor effects in a human HER2+ transgenic animal model. These findings demonstrate that the mode of secretion and trafficking can influence the immunogenicity of different human TAAs, and may explain the lack of immunogenicity of non-mutated TAAs found in cancer patients. They suggest that exosomal targeting could enhance future anti-tumor vaccination protocols. This targeting exosome process could also be adapted for the development of more potent vaccines in some viral and parasitic diseases where the classical vaccine approach has demonstrated limitations.
PMCID: PMC3350974  PMID: 22001882
Cancer Vaccines; exosomes; C1C2 domain; tumor antigens; adenovirus vectors; CEA; HER2
12.  Targeting CEA in Pancreas Cancer Xenografts with a Mutated scFv-Fc Antibody Fragment 
EJNMMI Research  2011;1:24.
Sensitive antibody-based tumor targeting has the potential not only to image metastatic and micrometastatic disease, but also to be the basis of targeted therapy. The vast majority of pancreas cancers express carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA). Thus, we sought to evaluate the potential of CEA as a pancreatic cancer target utilizing a rapidly clearing engineered anti-CEA scFv-Fc antibody fragment with a mutation in the Fc region [anti-CEA scFv-Fc H310A].
Immunohistochemistry (IHC) with the antibody fragment was used to confirm expression of CEA on human pancreas cancer specimens. In vivo tumor targeting was evaluated by tail vein injection of I124-labeled anti-CEA scFv-Fc(H310A) into mice harboring CEA-positive and -negative xenografts. MicroPET/CT imaging was performed at successive time intervals. Radioactivity in blood and tumor was measured after the last time point. Additionally, unlabeled anti-CEA scFv-Fc(H310A) was injected into CEA-positive tumor bearing mice and ex vivo IHC was performed to identify the presence of the antibody to define the microscopic intratumoral pattern of targeting.
Moderate to strong staining by IHC was noted on 84% of our human pancreatic cancer specimens and was comparable to staining of our xenografts. Pancreas xenograft imaging with the radiolabeled anti-CEA scFv-Fc(H310A) antibody demonstrated average tumor/blood ratios of 4.0. Immunolocalization demonstrated peripheral antibody fragment penetration of one to five cell diameters (0.75 to 1.5 μm).
We characterized a preclinical xenograft model with respect to CEA expression that was comparable to human cases. We demonstrated that the anti-CEA scFv-Fc(H310A) antibody exhibited antigen-specific tumor targeting and shows promise as an imaging and potentially therapeutic agent.
PMCID: PMC3251041  PMID: 22214289
imaging; pancreas cancer; CEA; antibody
13.  Immune response to the carcinoembryonic antigen in patients treated with an anti-idiotype antibody vaccine. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1995;96(1):334-342.
We have generated an IgG1 murine monoclonal anti-idiotype antibody (Ab2) designated 3H1, which mimics a specific epitope on the carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA). Patients with CEA positive tumors are immunologically "tolerant" to CEA. We used 3H1 as a surrogate for CEA for vaccine therapy of 12 patients with advanced colorectal cancer. Each of the patients received a minimum of four intracutaneous injections of aluminum hydroxide precipitated 3H1 at either 1, 2, or 4 mg dosage per injection. 9 of 12 patients demonstrated anti-anti-idiotypic (Ab3) response to 3H1. All nine patients generated specific anti-CEA antibody demonstrated by reactivity with radiolabeled purified CEA; some cases were confirmed by immunoprecipitation of purified CEA. We also demonstrated Ab3 stained both autologous and allogeneic colonic tumors. 7 of 12 patients demonstrated idiotype specific T cell proliferative responses and four also showed T cell proliferation to CEA. Toxicity was limited to local reaction with mild fever and chills. All 12 patients eventually progressed after finishing 4-13 dosages. This is the first report demonstrating that a vaccine therapy is capable of breaking "immune tolerance" to CEA in patients with CEA positive tumors. Future studies will focus on treating patients with minimal residual disease.
PMCID: PMC185205  PMID: 7615803
14.  A novel transgenic mouse model for immunological evaluation of carcinoembryonic antigen–based DNA minigene vaccines 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  2004;113(12):1792-1798.
A lack of relevant animal models has hampered preclinical screening and critical evaluation of the efficacy of human vaccines in vivo. Carcinoembryonic antigen–A2Kb (CEA–A2Kb) double transgenic mice provide a biologically relevant model for preclinical screening and critical evaluation of human CEA vaccine efficacy in vivo, particularly because such animals are peripherally tolerant of CEA. We established the utility of this model by demonstrating that an oral DNA minigene vaccine induces effective HLA-A2–restricted, CEA-specific antitumor CTL responses. This finding is supported by three lines of evidence: (a) an effective HLA-A2–restricted, CEA691-specific CTL response; (b) specific in vitro killing of CEA-A2Kb transduced MC-38 colon carcinoma cells; and (c) protective immunity induced in vaccinated mice against challenges of these tumor cells. Importantly, peripheral T cell tolerance against CEA in CEA-A2Kb double transgenic mice was broken by the CEA691 (IMIGVLVGV) minigene vaccine. In conclusion, CEA-A2Kb double transgenic mice were demonstrated to be good candidates for in vivo testing of human CEA–based vaccines. This result suggests a potential for these vaccines in future human vaccine development. The feasibility of using nonmutated self-antigens as targets for therapeutic vaccinations was indicated, provided that such antigens are presented in an immunogenic context; that is, as a DNA minigene in a bacterial carrier system.
PMCID: PMC420510  PMID: 15199414
15.  Specific Colon Cancer Cell Cytotoxicity Induced by Bacteriophage E Gene Expression under Transcriptional Control of Carcinoembryonic Antigen Promoter 
Colorectal cancer is one of the most prevalent cancers in the world. Patients in advanced stages often develop metastases that require chemotherapy and usually show a poor response, have a low survival rate and develop considerable toxicity with adverse symptoms. Gene therapy may act as an adjuvant therapy in attempts to destroy the tumor without affecting normal host tissue. The bacteriophage E gene has demonstrated significant antitumor activity in several cancers, but without any tumor-specific activity. The use of tumor-specific promoters may help to direct the expression of therapeutic genes so they act against specific cancer cells. We used the carcinoembryonic antigen promoter (CEA) to direct E gene expression (pCEA-E) towards colon cancer cells. pCEA-E induced a high cell growth inhibition of human HTC-116 colon adenocarcinoma and mouse MC-38 colon cancer cells in comparison to normal human CCD18co colon cells, which have practically undetectable levels of CEA. In addition, in vivo analyses of mice bearing tumors induced using MC-38 cells showed a significant decrease in tumor volume after pCEA-E treatment and a low level of Ki-67 in relation to untreated tumors. These results suggest that the CEA promoter is an excellent candidate for directing E gene expression specifically toward colon cancer cells.
PMCID: PMC4490463  PMID: 26053394
carcinoma embryonic antigen; colorectal cancer; E gene; suicide gene therapy; promoter tissue specific
16.  Improving tumor targeting and therapeutic potential of Salmonella VNP20009 by displaying cell surface CEA-specific antibodies 
Vaccine  2007;25(21):4183-4192.
Genetically modified Salmonella typhimurium VNP20009 (VNP) is a useful vehicle for cancer therapy and vaccine development but exhibits limited tumor targeting in vivo. We engineered a novel VNP derivative that expressed carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA)-specific single chain antibody fragments (scFv) on the cell surface to increase tumor-specific targeting. There was significant scFv cell surface display visualized by flow cytometry and confocal microscopy when cells were probed with fluorescently labeled CEA. Atomic force microscopy (AFM) measurements on whole bacteria confirmed binding of unlabelled CEA to the displayed scFv. The modified VNP strain exhibited increased localization in the upper gastrointestinal tract of CEA transgenic mice and accumulated in CEA-expressing tumors. Furthermore, treatment with a single dose of the VNP derivative inhibited growth of MC38CEA tumors and was associated with local accumulation of CD3+ T cells and CD11b+ macrophages. The display of antibody fragments on the surface of VNP represents a novel strategy for both targeting CEA-expressing tumors and increasing the immunogenicity of Salmonella-based vaccines for cancer.
PMCID: PMC3690550  PMID: 17399861
Salmonella; scFv display; cancer therapy; vaccine vector; carcinoembryonic antigen
17.  Recombinant Carcinoembryonic Antigen as a Reporter Gene for Molecular Imaging 
Reporter genes can provide a way of non-invasively assessing gene activity in vivo. However, current reporter gene strategies may be limited by the immunogenicity of foreign reporter proteins, endogenous expression or unwanted biological activity. We have developed a reporter gene based on carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA), a human protein with limited normal tissue expression.
To construct a CEA reporter gene for PET, a CEA minigene (N-A3) was fused to the extracellular and transmembrane domains of the human FcγRIIb receptor. The NA3-FcγRIIb recombinant gene, driven by a CMV promoter, was transfected in Jurkat (human T cell leukemia) cells. Expression was analyzed by flow cytometry, immunohistochemistry (IHC), and microPET imaging.
Flow cytometry identified Jurkat clones stably expressing NA3-FcγRIIb at low, medium, and high levels. High and medium NA3-FcγRIIb expression could also be detected by Western blot. Reporter gene positive and negative Jurkat cells were used to establish xenografts in athymic mice. IHC showed staining of the tumor with high reporter gene expression; medium and low N-A3 expression was not detected. MicroPET imaging, using an anti-CEA 124I-labeled scFv-Fc antibody fragment, demonstrated that only high N-A3 expression could be detected. Specific accumulation of activity was visualized at the N-A3 positive tumor as early as 4h. MicroPET image quantitation showed tumor activity of 1.8(±0.2), 15.2(±1.3) and 4.6(±1.2) %ID/g at 4h, 20h and 48h, respectively. Biodistribution at 48h, demonstrated tumor uptake of 4.8(±0.8) %ID/g.
The CEA N-A3 minigene has the potential to be used as a reporter gene for imaging cells in vivo.
PMCID: PMC2803699  PMID: 18719907
CEA reporter gene; Jurkat xenograft; 124I-labeled scFv-Fc antibody fragment; microPET/microCT imaging; T cells
18.  Identification of a broad coverage HLA-DR-degenerate epitope pool derived from carcinoembryonic antigen 
CD4 T cells are important for anti-tumor immune responses. Aside from their role in the activation of CD8 T cells, CD4 T cells also mediate anti-tumor immune responses by recruiting innate immune effectors into the tumor microenvironment. Thus, the search for strategies to boost CD4 T cell immunity is an active area of research. Our goal in this study was to identify HLA-DR epitopes of carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA), a commonly over-expressed tumor antigen. HLA-DR epitopes of CEA were identified using the epitope prediction program, PIC (predicted IC50) and tested using in vitro HLA-DR binding assays. Following CEA epitope confirmation, IFN-γ ELIspot assays were used to detect existing immunity against the HLA-DR epitope panel of CEA in breast and ovarian cancer patients. In vitro generated peptide-specific CD4 T cells were used to determine whether the epitopes are naturally processed from CEA protein. Forty-three epitopes of CEA were predicted, 15 of which had high binding affinity for 8 or more common HLA-DR molecules. A degenerate pool of four, HLA-DR restricted 15-amino acid epitopes (CEA.24, CEA.176/354, CEA.488 and CEA.653) consisting of two novel epitopes (CEA.24 and CEA.488) was identified against which 40% of breast and ovarian cancer patients had pre-existent T cell immunity. All four epitopes are naturally processed by antigen-presenting cells. Hardy-Weinberg analysis showed that the pool is useful in ~94% of patients. Patients with breast or ovarian cancer demonstrate pre-existent immune responses to the tumor antigen CEA. The degenerate pool of CEA peptides may be useful for augmenting CD4 T cell immunity.
PMCID: PMC3667390  PMID: 19621224
MHC class II; HLA-DR; Helper T cells; Vaccines; Peptides
Bioconjugate chemistry  2007;19(1):89-96.
Radiolabeled anti-carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) antibodies have the potential to give excellent images of a wide variety of human tumors, including tumors of the colon, breast, lung, and medullar thyroid. In order to realize the goals of routine and repetitive clinical imaging with anti-CEA antibodies, it is necessary that the antibodies have high affinity for CEA, low cross reactivity and uptake in normal tissues, and low immunogenicity. The humanized anti-CEA antibody hT84.66-M5A (M5A) fulfills these criteria with an affinity constant >1010 M−1, no reactivity with CEA cross-reacting antigens found in normal tissues, and >90% human protein sequence. A further requirement for routine clinical use of radiolabeled antibodies is a versatile method of radiolabeling that allows the use of multiple radionuclides that differ in their radioemissions and half-lives. We describe a versatile bifunctional chelator, DO3A-VS (1, 4, 7-tris(carboxymethyl)-10-(vinylsulfone)-1, 4, 7, 10-tetraazacyclododecane) that binds a range of radiometals including 111In for gamma-ray imaging and 64Cu for Positron Emission Tomography (PET), and which can be conjugated with negligible loss of immunoreactivity either to sulfhydryls (SH) in the hinge region of lightly reduced immunoglobulins or surface lysines (NH) of immunoglobulins.
Athymic mice peripherally xenografted with CEA-positive human colon tumors (LS-174T) were injected with 111In-labeled or 64Cu-labeled SH-DO3A-VS-M5A, NH-DO3A-VS-M5A, or DOTA-M5A and sacrificed at various time points for biodistribution measurements. Other mice injected with 64Cu-labeled SH-DO3A-VS-M5A or NH-DO3A-VS-M5A were imaged serially with small animal PET from 1 to 48 h post injection and then sacrificed for biodistribution measurements.
Virtually identical biodistributions were obtained for SH- and NH-DO3A-VS-M5A or DOTA-M5A whether radiolabeled with 111In or 64Cu. Rapid tumor uptake of radiolabel was observed, reaching 40% injected dose/gram or more by 48 h. Importantly, excellent PET images of tumor were obtained as early as 22 h after injection of 64Cu-labeled SH- or NH-DO3A-VS-M5A.
Based on our correlative studies comparing the kinetics of radiolabeled anti-CEA antibodies in murine models with those in man, we predict that 64Cu-labeled intact, humanized antibodies can be used to image CEA positive tumors in the clinic.
PMCID: PMC2553277  PMID: 17988078
carcinoembryonic antigen; bifunctional chelate; radioimmunoimaging; positron emission tomography
20.  Vaccination with a recombinant Saccharomyces cerevisiae expressing a tumor antigen breaks immune tolerance and elicits therapeutic antitumor responses 
Saccharomyces cerevisiae, a nonpathogenic yeast, has previously been used as a vehicle to elicit immune responses to foreign antigens, and tumor-associated antigens, and has been shown to reduce tumorburden in mice. Studies were designed to determine if vaccination of human carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA)-transgenic mice (where CEA is a self-antigen) with a recombinant S. cerevisiae construct expressing human CEA (yeast-CEA) elicits CEA-specific T-cell responses and antitumor activity.
Experimental Design
CEA-transgenic mice were vaccinated with yeast-CEA, and CD4+ and CD8+ T-cell responses were assessed after one and multiple administrations or vaccinations at multiple sites per administration. Antitumor activity was determined by tumor growth and overall survival in both pulmonary metastasis and subcutaneous pancreatic tumor models.
These studies demonstrate that recombinant yeast can break tolerance and that a) yeast-CEA constructs elicit both CEA-specific CD4+ and CD8+ T-cell responses; b) repeated yeast-CEA administration causes increased antigen-specific T-cell responses after each vaccination; c) vaccination with yeast-CEA at multiple sites induces a greater T-cell response than the same dose given at a single site; d) tumor-bearing mice vaccinated with yeast-CEA show a reduction in tumor burden and increased overall survival compared to mock-treated or control yeast-vaccinated mice in both pulmonary metastasis and subcutaneous pancreatic tumor models.
Vaccination with a heat-killed recombinant yeast expressing the tumor-associated antigen CEA induces CEA-specific immune responses, reduces tumor burden, and extends overall survival in CEA-transgenic mice. These studies thus form the rationale for the incorporation of recombinant yeast-CEA and other recombinant yeast constructs in cancer immunotherapy protocols.
PMCID: PMC2740939  PMID: 18594015
Saccharomyces cerevisiae; yeast; CEA; tumor immunity
21.  Anti-CEA loaded maghemite nanoparticles as a theragnostic device for colorectal cancer 
Nanosized maghemite particles were synthesized, precoated (with dimercaptosuccinic acid) and surface-functionalized with anticarcinoembryonic antigen (anti-CEA) and successfully used to target cell lines expressing the CEA, characteristic of colorectal cancer (CRC) cells. The as-developed nanosized material device, consisting of surface decorated maghemite nanoparticles suspended as a biocompatible magnetic fluid (MF) sample, labeled MF-anti-CEA, was characterized and tested against two cell lines: a high-CEA expressing cell line (LS174T) and a low-CEA expressing cell line (HCT116). Whereas X-ray diffraction was used to assess the average core size of the as-synthesized maghemite particles (average 8.3 nm in diameter), dynamic light scattering and electrophoretic mobility measurements were used to obtain the average hydrodynamic diameter (550 nm) and the zeta-potential (−38 mV) of the as-prepared and maghemite-based nanosized device, respectively. Additionally, surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) was used to track the surface decoration of the nanosized maghemite particles from the very first precoating up to the attachment of the anti-CEA moiety. The Raman peak at 1655 cm−1, absent in the free anti-CEA spectrum, is the signature of the anti-CEA binding onto the precoated magnetic nanoparticles. Whereas MTT assay was used to confirm the low cell toxicity of the MF-anti-CEA device, ELISA and Prussian blue iron staining tests performed with both cell lines (LS174T and HCT116) confirm that the as-prepared MF-anti- CEA is highly specific for CEA-expressing cells. Finally, transmission electron microscopy analyses show that the association with anti-CEA seems to increase the number of LS174T cells with internalized maghemite nanoparticles, whereas no such increase seems to occur in the HCT116 cell line. In conclusion, the MF-anti-CEA sample is a biocompatible device that can specifically target CEA, suggesting its potential use as a theragnostic tool for CEA-expressing tumors, micrometastasis, and cancer-circulating cells.
PMCID: PMC3468277  PMID: 23055733
magnetic nanoparticles; anti-CEA antibody; targeted delivery; diagnostic; Raman; biocompatible device
22.  MyD88 Is Required for Protection from Lethal Infection with a Mouse-Adapted SARS-CoV 
PLoS Pathogens  2008;4(12):e1000240.
A novel human coronavirus, SARS-CoV, emerged suddenly in 2003, causing approximately 8000 human cases and more than 700 deaths worldwide. Since most animal models fail to faithfully recapitulate the clinical course of SARS-CoV in humans, the virus and host factors that mediate disease pathogenesis remain unclear. Recently, our laboratory and others developed a recombinant mouse-adapted SARS-CoV (rMA15) that was lethal in BALB/c mice. In contrast, intranasal infection of young 10-week-old C57BL/6 mice with rMA15 results in a nonlethal infection characterized by high titer replication within the lungs, lung inflammation, destruction of lung tissue, and loss of body weight, thus providing a useful model to identify host mediators of protection. Here, we report that mice deficient in MyD88 (MyD88−/−), an adapter protein that mediates Toll-like receptor (TLR), IL-1R, and IL-18R signaling, are far more susceptible to rMA15 infection. The genetic absence of MyD88 resulted in enhanced pulmonary pathology and greater than 90% mortality by day 6 post-infection. MyD88−/− mice had significantly higher viral loads in lung tissue throughout the course of infection. Despite increased viral loads, the expression of multiple proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines within lung tissue and recruitment of inflammatory monocytes/macrophages to the lung was severely impaired in MyD88−/− mice compared to wild-type mice. Furthermore, mice deficient in chemokine receptors that contribute to monocyte recruitment to the lung were more susceptible to rMA15-induced disease and exhibited severe lung pathology similar to that seen in MyD88−/−mice. These data suggest that MyD88-mediated innate immune signaling and inflammatory cell recruitment to the lung are required for protection from lethal rMA15 infection.
Author Summary
In 2002, a new human coronavirus (CoV), termed SARS-CoV, emerged in southern China from coronaviruses circulating within live animals sold for food. Due to the ease and speed of human global travel, this new respiratory virus rapidly spread worldwide, illustrating the need to better understand how these viruses cause disease and how the immune system responds to infection. SARS-CoV infection of the human lower respiratory tract caused an atypical pneumonia characterized by viral replication in lung tissue and lung inflammation visible by chest X-ray. To identify how the immune system responds to and provides protection from SARS-CoV infection, we have developed a mouse model that mimics many aspects of SARS-CoV disease in humans. Utilizing this mouse model, we discovered that a host gene, termed MyD88, is required to control SARS-CoV replication and spread in lung tissue and for protection from death. In addition, MyD88-dependent functions were required for early immune and inflammatory responses in the lung following SARS-CoV infection, and the absence of these early responses correlated with severe SARS-CoV-induced disease and death. Our studies identify host immune responses that provide protection from SARS-CoV infection and provide valuable insight toward the development of successful antiviral therapies.
PMCID: PMC2587915  PMID: 19079579
23.  Novel Cancer Vaccine Based on Genes of Salmonella Pathogenicity Island 2 
Although tumors express potentially immunogenic tumor-associated antigens (TAAs), cancer vaccines often fail because of inadequate antigen delivery and/or insufficient activation of innate immunity. The engineering of non-pathogenic bacterial vectors to deliver TAAs of choice may provide an efficient way of presenting TAAs in an immunogenic form. In this study, we used genes of Salmonella Pathogenicity Island 2 (SPI2) to construct a novel cancer vaccine, where a TAA, survivin was fused to SseF effector protein and placed under control of SsrB, the central regulator of SPI2 gene expression. This construct uses the type III secretion system (T3SS) of Salmonella and allows preferential delivery of tumor antigen into the cytosol of antigen-presenting cells for optimal immunogenicity. In a screen of a panel of attenuated strains of Salmonella we found that a double-attenuated strain of Salmonella typhimurium, MvP728 (purD/htrA) was not toxic to mice and effectively expressed and translocated survivin protein inside cytosol of murine macrophages. We also found that a ligand for CD1d-reactive Natural Killer T (NKT) cells, α-Glucuronosylceramide (GSL1) enhanced MvP728-induced IL-12 production in human DCs and that in vivo co-administration of a NKT ligand with MvP728-Llo or MvP728-survivin enhanced effector-memory CTL responses. Furthermore, combined use of MvP728-survivin with GSL1 produced anti-tumor activity in mouse models of CT26 colon carcinoma and orthotopic DBT glioblastoma. Therefore, the use of TAA delivery via SPI-2-regulated T3SS of Salmonella and NKT ligands as adjuvants may provide a foundation for new cancer vaccines.
PMCID: PMC2993175  PMID: 19824039
Cancer vaccine; Salmonella; Salmonella Pathogenicity Island 2 (SPI2); Natural Killer T (NKT) cells; Survivin
24.  Heat shock protein inhibitors increase the efficacy of measles virotherapy 
Gene therapy  2008;15(14):1024-1034.
Oncolytic measles virus strains have activity against multiple tumor types and are currently in phase I clinical testing. Induction of the heat shock protein 70 (HSP70) constitutes one of the earliest changes in cellular gene expression following infection with RNA viruses including measles virus, and HSP70 upregulation induced by heat shock has been shown to result in increased measles virus cytotoxicity. HSP90 inhibitors such as geldanamycin (GA) or 17-allylaminogeldanamycin result in pharmacologic upregulation of HSP70 and they are currently in clinical testing as cancer therapeutics. We therefore investigated the hypothesis that heat shock protein inhibitors could augment the measles virus-induced cytopathic effect. We tested the combination of a measles virus derivative expressing soluble human carcinoembryonic antigen (MV-CEA) and GA in MDA-MB-231 (breast), SKOV3.IP (ovarian) and TE671 (rhabdomyosarcoma) cancer cell lines. Optimal synergy was accomplished when GA treatment was initiated 6–24 h following MV infection. Western immunoblotting confirmed HSP70 upregulation in combination-treated cells. Combination treatment resulted in statistically significant increase in syncytia formation as compared to MV-CEA infection alone. Clonogenic assays demonstrated significant decrease in tumor colony formation in MV-CEA/GA combination-treated cells. In addition there was increase in apoptosis by 4,6-diamidino-2-phenylindole staining. Western immunoblotting for caspase-9, caspase-8, caspase-3 and poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) demonstrated increase in cleaved caspase-8 and PARP. The pan-caspase inhibitor Z-VAD-FMK and caspase-8 inhibitor Z-IETD-FMK, but not the caspase-9 inhibitor Z-IEHD-FMK, protected tumor cells from MV-CEA/GA-induced PARP activation, indicating that apoptosis in combination-treated cells occurs mainly via the extrinsic caspase pathway. Treatment of normal cells, such as normal human fibroblasts, however, with the MV-CEA/GA combination, did not result in cytopathic effect, indicating that GA did not alter the MV-CEA specificity for tumor cells. One-step viral growth curves, western immunoblotting for MV-N protein expression, QRT-PCR quantitation of MV-genome copy number and CEA levels showed comparable proliferation of MV-CEA in GA-treated vs -untreated tumor cells. Rho activation assays and western blot for total RhoA, a GTPase associated with the actin cytoskeleton, demonstrated decrease in RhoA activation in combination-treated cells, a change previously shown to be associated with increase in paramyxovirus-induced cell—cell fusion. The enhanced cytopathic effect resulting from measles virus/GA combination supports the translational potential of this approach in the treatment of cancer.
PMCID: PMC2748733  PMID: 18356818
measles; virotherapy; GA; heat shock protein inhibitors; RhoA
25.  In vitro evaluation of cancer-specific NF-κB-CEA enhancer–promoter system for 5-fluorouracil prodrug gene therapy in colon cancer cell lines 
British Journal of Cancer  2007;97(6):745-754.
Nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-κB) is a transcription factor with high transcriptional activity in cancer cells. In this study, we developed a novel enhancer–promoter system, κB4-CEA205, in which the basal carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) promoter sequence (CEA205) was placed downstream of the four tandem-linked NF-κB DNA-binding sites (κB4). In combination with a κB4 enhancer, the transcriptional activity of the CEA promoter was significantly enhanced (three- to eight-fold) in cancer cell lines but not in normal cells. In cancer cell lines, the transcriptional activity of κB4-CEA205 was comparable with that of the SV40 promoter. We also constructed vectors in which the thymidine phosphorylase (TP) cDNA was under the control of CEA205, κB4, κB4-CEA205 and CMV promoters, respectively. TP protein and enzyme activity were detected at comparable levels in κB4-CEA205- and CMV-driven TP cDNA-transfected cancer cell lines (H630 and RKO). The κB4-TP and CEA205-TP-transfected cell lines, respectively, only demonstrated negligible and low levels of TP protein and enzyme activity. Both CMV- and κB4-CEA205-driven TP cDNA transiently transfected cells were 8- to 10-fold sensitised to 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) prodrug, 5′-deoxy-5-fluorouradine (5′-DFUR), in contrast to only 1.5- to 2-fold sensitised by the κB4- and CEA205-driven TP cDNA-transfected cells. The bystander killing effect of CMV- and κB4-CEA205-driven TP cDNA-transfected cells was comparable. This is the first report that indicates that the NF-κB DNA-binding site could be used as a novel cancer-specific enhancer to improve cancer-specific promoter activity in gene-directed enzyme prodrug therapy.
PMCID: PMC2360387  PMID: 17687334
NF-κB; CEA; GDEPT; thymidine phosphorylase; colorectal cancer

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