Enhanced Vaccine-Induced CD8<sup>+</sup> T Cell Responses to Malaria Antigen ME-TRAP by Fusion to MHC Class II Invariant Chain

<div><p>The orthodox role of the invariant chain (CD74; Ii) is in antigen presentation to CD4<sup>+</sup> T cells, but enhanced CD8<sup>+</sup> T cells responses have been reported after vaccination with vectored viral vaccines encoding a fusion of Ii to the antigen of interest. In this study we assessed whether fusion of the malarial antigen, ME-TRAP, to Ii could increase the vaccine-induced CD8<sup>+</sup> T cell response. Following single or heterologous prime-boost vaccination of mice with a recombinant chimpanzee adenovirus vector, ChAd63, or recombinant modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA), higher frequencies of antigen-specific CD4<sup>+</sup> and CD8<sup>+</sup> T cells were observed, with the largest increases observed following a ChAd63-MVA heterologous prime-boost regimen. Studies in non-human primates confirmed the ability of Ii-fusion to augment the T cell response, where a 4-fold increase was maintained up to 11 weeks after the MVA boost. Of the numerous different approaches explored to increase vectored vaccine induced immunogenicity over the years, fusion to the invariant chain showed a consistent enhancement in CD8<sup>+</sup> T cell responses across different animal species and may therefore find application in the development of vaccines against human malaria and other diseases where high levels of cell-mediated immunity are required.</p></div>