- The viral vector vaccine VSV-GP boosts immune response upon repeated applications (2012)
- Background: Vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) is a potent candidate vaccine vector for various viral diseases (e.g. HIV, HCV, RSV). The biggest limitation of VSV, however, is its neurotoxicity, which limits application in humans. The second drawback is that VSV induces neutralizing antibodies rapidly and is thus ineffective as a vaccine vector upon repeated applications. Our group has recently shown that VSV pseudotyped with the glycoprotein (GP) of the lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV), VSV-GP, is not neurotoxic. The aim of this project was to evaluate the potential of VSV-GP as a vaccine vector. Methods: For this purpose, we used Ovalbumin (OVA) as a model antigen and analyzed immunogenicity of GP-pseudotyped and wildtype VSV containing OVA (VSV-GP-OVA and VSV-OVA) in vitro and in vivo in mouse models. Results: We showed that both vectors infected murine bone marrow-derived dendritic cells (bmDCs) in vitro. These bmDCs were able to activate OVA specific CD8+ and CD4+ T cells. Immunization experiments in mice revealed that both VSV-OVA and VSV-GP-OVA induced functional OVA-specific cytotoxic T cells (CTLs) after a single immunization. In addition, with both viruses, mice generated antibodies against OVA. However, boosting with the same virus was only possible for the GP-pseudotyped virus but not for wild type VSV. The efficacy of repeated immunization with VSV-OVA was most likely limited by high levels of neutralizing antibodies, which we detected after the first immunization. In contrast, no neutralizing antibodies against VSV-GP were induced even after boosting. Conclusion: Taken together, we showed that the non-neurotoxic VSV-GP is able to induce specific T cell and B cell responses against the model antigen OVA to the same level as the wild type VSV vector. However, in contrast to wild type VSV, VSV-GP-OVA boosted the immune response upon repeated applications. Thus, VSV-GP is a promising novel vaccine vector.
- Survival of the fittest: positive selection of CD4+ T cells expressing a membrane-bound fusion inhibitor following HIV-1 infection (2010)
- Although a variety of genetic strategies have been developed to inhibit HIV replication, few direct comparisons of the efficacy of these inhibitors have been carried out. Moreover, most studies have not examined whether genetic inhibitors are able to induce a survival advantage that results in an expansion of genetically-modified cells following HIV infection. We evaluated the efficacy of three leading genetic strategies to inhibit HIV replication: 1) an HIV-1 tat/rev-specific small hairpin (sh) RNA; 2) an RNA antisense gene specific for the HIV-1 envelope; and 3) a viral entry inhibitor, maC46. In stably transduced cell lines selected such that >95% of cells expressed the genetic inhibitor, the RNA antisense envelope and viral entry inhibitor maC46 provided the strongest inhibition of HIV-1 replication. However, when mixed populations of transduced and untransduced cells were challenged with HIV-1, the maC46 fusion inhibitor resulted in highly efficient positive selection of transduced cells, an effect that was evident even in mixed populations containing as few as 1% maC46-expressing cells. The selective advantage of the maC46 fusion inhibitor was also observed in HIV-1-infected cultures of primary T lymphocytes as well as in HIV-1-infected humanized mice. These results demonstrate robust inhibition of HIV replication with the fusion inhibitor maC46 and the antisense Env inhibitor, and importantly, a survival advantage of cells expressing the maC46 fusion inhibitor both in vitro and in vivo. Evaluation of the ability of genetic inhibitors of HIV-1 replication to confer a survival advantage on genetically-modified cells provides unique information not provided by standard techniques that may be important in the in vivo efficacy of these genes.
- Remission of invasive, cancer stem-like glioblastoma xenografts using lentiviral vector-mediated suicide gene therapy (2009)
- Background: Glioblastoma is the most frequent and most malignant primary brain tumor with a poor prognosis. The translation of therapeutic strategies for glioblastoma from the experimental phase into the clinic has been limited by insufficient animal models, which lack important features of human tumors. Lentiviral gene therapy is an attractive therapeutic option for human glioblastoma, which we validated in a clinically relevant animal model. Methodology/Principal Findings: We used a rodent xenograft model that recapitulates the invasive and angiogenic features of human glioblastoma to analyze the transduction pattern and therapeutic efficacy of lentiviral pseudotyped vectors. Both, lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus glycoprotein (LCMV-GP) and vesicular stomatitis virus glycoprotein (VSV-G) pseudotyped lentiviral vectors very efficiently transduced human glioblastoma cells in vitro and in vivo. In contrast, pseudotyped gammaretroviral vectors, similar to those evaluated for clinical therapy of glioblastoma, showed inefficient gene transfer in vitro and in vivo. Both pseudotyped lentiviral vectors transduced cancer stem-like cells characterized by their CD133-, nestin- and SOX2-expression, the ability to form spheroids in neural stem cell medium and to express astrocytic and neuronal differentiation markers under serum conditions. In a therapeutic approach using the suicide gene herpes simplex virus thymidine kinase (HSV-1-tk) fused to eGFP, both lentiviral vectors mediated a complete remission of solid tumors as seen on MRI resulting in a highly significant survival benefit (p<0.001) compared to control groups. In all recurrent tumors, surviving eGFP-positive tumor cells were found, advocating prodrug application for several cycles to even enhance and prolong the therapeutic effect. Conclusions/Significance: In conclusion, lentiviral pseudotyped vectors are promising candidates for gene therapy of glioma in patients. The inefficient gene delivery by gammaretroviral vectors is in line with the results obtained in clinical therapy for GBM and thus confirms the high reproducibility of the invasive glioma animal model for translational research.
- Protection of stem cell-derived lymphocytes in a primate AIDS gene therapy model after in vivo selection (2009)
- Background: There is currently no effective AIDS vaccine, emphasizing the importance of developing alternative therapies. Recently, a patient was successfully transplanted with allogeneic, naturally resistant CCR5-negative (CCR5 delta 32) cells, setting the stage for transplantation of naturally resistant, or genetically modified stem cells as a viable therapy for AIDS. Hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) gene therapy using vectors that express various anti-HIV transgenes has also been attempted in clinical trials, but inefficient gene transfer in these studies has severely limited the potential of this approach. Here we evaluated HSC gene transfer of an anti-HIV vector in the pigtailed macaque (Macaca nemestrina) model, which closely models human transplantation. Methods and Findings: We used lentiviral vectors that inhibited both HIV-1 and simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV)/HIV-1 (SHIV) chimera virus infection, and also expressed a P140K mutant methylguanine methyltransferase (MGMT) transgene to select gene-modified cells by adding chemotherapy drugs. Following transplantation and MGMT-mediated selection we demonstrated transgene expression in over 7% of stem-cell derived lymphocytes. The high marking levels allowed us to demonstrate protection from SHIV in lymphocytes derived from gene-modified macaque long-term repopulating cells that expressed an HIV-1 fusion inhibitor. We observed a statistically significant 4-fold increase of gene-modified cells after challenge of lymphocytes from one macaque that received stem cells transduced with an anti-HIV vector (p<0.02, Student's t-test), but not in lymphocytes from a macaque that received a control vector. We also established a competitive repopulation assay in a second macaque for preclinical testing of promising anti-HIV vectors. The vectors we used were HIV-based and thus efficiently transduce human cells, and the transgenes we used target HIV-1 genes that are also in SHIV, so our findings can be rapidly translated to the clinic. Conclusions: Here we demonstrate the ability to select protected HSC-derived lymphocytes in vivo in a clinically relevant nonhuman primate model of HIV/SHIV infection. This approach can now be evaluated in human clinical trials in AIDS lymphoma patients. In this patient setting, chemotherapy would not only kill malignant cells, but would also increase the number of MGMTP140K-expressing HIV-resistant cells. This approach should allow for high levels of HIV-protected cells in AIDS patients to evaluate AIDS gene therapy.
- Mathematical modeling of oncogenesis control in mature T-cell populations (2013)
- T-cell receptor (TCR) polyclonal mature T cells are surprisingly resistant to oncogenic transformation after retroviral insertion of T-cell oncogenes. In a mouse model, it has been shown that mature T-cell lymphoma/leukemia (MTCLL) is not induced upon transplantation of mature, TCR polyclonal wild-type (WT) T cells, transduced with gammaretroviral vectors encoding potent T-cell oncogenes, into RAG1-deficient recipients. However, further studies demonstrated that quasi-monoclonal T cells treated with the same protocol readily induced MTCLL in the recipient mice. It has been hypothesized that in the TCR polyclonal situation, outgrowth of preleukemic cells and subsequent conversion to overt malignancy is suppressed through regulation of clonal abundances on a per-clone basis due to interactions between TCRs and self-peptide-MHC-complexes (spMHCs), while these mechanisms fail in the quasi-monoclonal situation. To quantitatively study this hypothesis, we applied a mathematical modeling approach. In particular, we developed a novel ordinary differential equation model of T-cell homeostasis, in which T-cell fate depends on spMHC-TCR-interaction-triggered stimulatory signals from antigen-presenting cells (APCs). Based on our mathematical modeling approach, we identified parameter configurations of our model, which consistently explain the observed phenomena. Our results suggest that the preleukemic cells are less competent than healthy competitor cells in acquiring survival stimuli from APCs, but that proliferation of these preleukemic cells is less dependent on survival stimuli from APCs. These predictions now call for experimental validation.
- Efficient lysis of rhabdomyosarcoma cells by cytokine-induced killer cells : implications for adoptive immunotherapy after allogeneic stem cell transplantation (2010)
- Background: Rhabdomyosarcoma is the most common soft tissue sarcoma in childhood and has a poor prognosis. Here we assessed the capability of ex vivo expanded cytokine-induced killer cells to lyse both alveolar and embryonic rhabdomyosarcoma cell lines and investigated the mechanisms involved. Design and Methods: Peripheral blood mononuclear cells from six healthy donors were used to generate and expand cytokine-induced killer cells. The phenotype and composition of these cells were determined by multiparameter flow cytometry, while their cytotoxic effect against rhabdomyosarcoma cells was evaluated by a europium release assay. Results: Cytokine-induced killer cells efficiently lysed cells from both rhabdomyosarcoma cell lines. Antibody-mediated masking of either NKG2D molecule on cytokine-induced killer cells or its ligands on rhabdomyosarcoma cells (major histocompatibility antigen related chain A and B and UL16 binding protein 2) diminished this effect by 50%, suggesting a major role for the NKG2D molecule in rhabdomyosarcoma cell killing. No effect was observed after blocking CD11a, CD3 or TCRαβ molecules on cytokine-induced killer cells or CD1d on rhabdomyosar-coma cells. Remarkably, cytokine-induced killer cells used tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) to activate caspase-3, as the main caspase responsible for the execution of apoptosis. Accordingly, blocking TRAIL receptors on embryonic rhabdomyosarcoma cell lines significantly reduced the anti-tumor effect of cytokine-induced killer cells. About 50% of T cells within the cytokine-induced killer population had an effector memory phenotype, 20% had a naïve phenotype and approximately 30% of the cells had a central memory phenotype. In addition, cytokine-induced killer cells expressed low levels of activation-induced markers CD69 and CD137 and demonstrated a low alloreactive potential. Conclusions: Our data suggest that cytokine-induced killer cells may be used as a novel adoptive immunotherapy for the treatment of patients with rhabdomyosarcoma after allogeneic stem cell transplantation.