Cross-Linked Peptide Nanoclusters for Delivery of Oncofetal Antigen as a Cancer Vaccine
2018-02-12T21:07:38Z (GMT) by
Peptide subunit vaccines are desirable because they increase control over the immune response and safety of the vaccine by reducing the risk of off-target responses to molecules other than the target antigen. The immunogenicity of most peptides, however, is low. Peptide nanoclusters (PNC) are proposed as a subunit peptide vaccine delivery system made completely of cross-linked peptide antigen that could improve the immunogenicity of a peptide vaccine. Proof of concept is demonstrated with oncofetal antigen (OFA), an immature laminin receptor protein expressed by many hematologic cancer cells but not by healthy cells. Peptide epitopes from this protein, called OFA 1, 2, and 3, were synthesized into PNC as a potential cancer peptide vaccine delivery system. PNC were formed by desolvation and stabilized with disulfide bonds using a trithiol cross-linker. Cysteines were added to the C-terminus of each peptide to assist in this cross-linking step, denoted OFA 1C, 2C, and 3C PNC. OFA 2C was found to form the smallest PNC, 148 ± 15 nm in diameter and stable in solution. This size is in the range where particles are readily internalized by dendritic cells (DCs) and may also passively diffuse to regional lymph nodes. OFA 2C PNC and soluble OFA 2C were internalized similarly by DCs <i>in vitro</i>, but only PNC resulted in significant peptide presentation by DCs. This indicates the potential for PNC to improve immune activation against this antigen. Additionally, PNC displayed higher retention at the intradermal injection site <i>in vivo</i> than soluble peptide, allowing more time to interact with DCs in an area of increased DC activity. While offering traditional nanoparticle benefits such as increased DC recognition, slower diffusion, and potential for multivalent cellular interactions, PNC also maximize antigen delivered per particle while minimizing off-target material delivery because the antigens are the main building blocks of the particle. With these properties, PNC are a delivery system with potential to increase peptide subunit vaccine immunogenicity for OFA and other peptide antigens.