GSBS Dissertations and Theses

Title

DNA Immunization: Role of Target Site, Bone Marrow-Derived Cells and Secretion of Antigen in the Initiation of Immune Responses: A Dissertation

Approval Date

5-28-1998

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Department

Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology

Subjects

DNA; Immunization; Academic Dissertations

Abstract

DNA immunization, or the use of antigen-expressing DNAs to raise immune responses, represents a novel approach to the study and manipulation of immune responses. In this dissertation, we examine the role of antigen expression at the target site, the role of antigen presentation by bone marrow-derived cells, and the effect of secretion of antigen on DNA-raised responses in mice. Immunizations were conducted using either gene gun delivery of DNA to the epidermis or intramuscular (i.m.) saline injections.

To examine the role of antigen expression at the target site, we excised target sites at different time points following immunization. We immunized with plasmid DNA expressing three different forms of antigens: influenza hemagglutinin H1, human growth hormone and influenza nucleoprotein NP (membrane-bound, secreted and intracellular, respectively). We hypothesized that antigen expression at the target site would be essential in initiating immune responses. We demonstrate here that the target site plays different roles in gene gun and i.m. immunizations. We found that the skin target site played an essential role in eliciting maximal antibody and cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) responses by gene gun immunization, although low-level responses can be raised independent of the target site. In contrast, the muscle target site was not essential for eliciting maximal immune responses following i.m. immunization. We suggest that gene gun immunization results in transfection of keratinocytes and bone marrow-derived Langerhans cells at the target site, and these cells together initiate maximal responses. In i.m. immunizations, on the other hand, nonmuscle cells at distal sites, perhaps bone marrow-derived cells in lymphoid tissues, become transfected and are sufficient for initiation of maximal responses.

We also examined the role of antigen presentation by bone marrow-derived cells in initiation of CTL responses to influenza NP following gene gun and i.m. immunization. We hypothesized that antigen presentation by bone marrow-derived cells would be involved in initiation of CTL responses. To test this hypothesis, irradiated F1 mice of MHC class I H-2bxd haplotype were reconstituted with bone marrow from either H-2b or H-2d donors, creating two sets of bone marrow chimeric mice (H-2b → H-2bxd and H-2d → H-2bxd, respectively). We immunized the two sets of bone marrow chimeric mice and determined the MHC haplotype restriction of the induced CTL responses using H-2b- or H-2d-restricted peptides of NP. We found that the CTL responses initiated following gene gun and i.m. immunization were restricted to the haplotype of the bone marrow donor. In H-2b→ H-2bxd chimeric mice, CTL responses were restricted to H-2b, while in H-2d→ H-2bxd chimeric mice, CTL responses were restricted to H-2d. Thus, antigen presentation by bone marrow-derived cells, and not by skin or muscle cells, initiates CTL responses following both gene gun and i.m. immunization.

Finally, we examined the effect of secretion of a DNA-expressed antigen on antibody responses. We hypothesized that a secreted antigen would raise greater antibody responses than a membrane-bound antigen, due to easier access of a soluble antigen to lymphoid tissues and to uptake by professional antigen-presenting cells and by antigen-specific B cells. We immunized mice with plasmid DNA expressing either a secreted or the normal membrane-bound form of influenza hemagglutinin H1. We found that secretion of H1 (sH1) did not result in enhanced antibody responses, with sH1 appearing to be less effective than H1. We suggest that the effectiveness of DNA immunization with membrane-bound H1 in raising maximal antibody responses may be due to MHC class II presentation of H1 via an endogenous pathway, resulting from direct transfection of bone marrow-derived APCs.

We also found that secretion of H1 influenced the predominant IgG subclass of antibody responses raised by i.m. immunization. Secreted H1 raised predominantly IgG1 responses and H1 raised predominantly IgG2a responses. The IgG1 response to sH1 following i.m. immunization was IL-4 dependent, suggesting that the response to sH1 had a T-helper type 2 phenotype.

We propose a model for the mechanism of initiation of immune responses by DNA immunization based on our results and taking them within the context of results from other investigators in the field. We propose that DNA immunization may initiate immune responses primarily by the direct transfection of bone marrow-derived cells that then express and present the DNA vaccine-encoded antigen. However, antigen expression by nonhemopoietic cells, particularly in skin, may play a role in raising maximal responses.

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