Vaccination with TAT-antigen fusion protein induces protective, CD8 T cell-mediated immunity against leishmania major

Katharina Kronenberg, Sven Brosch, Florian Butsch, Yayoi Tada, Naotaka Shibagaki, Mark C. Udey, Esther Von Stebut

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24 Scopus citations


In murine leishmaniasis, healing is mediated by IFN-γ-producing CD4 and CD8 T cells. Thus, an efficacious vaccine should induce Th1 and Tc1 cells. Dendritic cells (DCs) pulsed with exogenous proteins primarily induce strong CD4-dependent immunity; induction of CD8 responses has proven to be difficult. We evaluated the immunogenicity of fusion proteins comprising the protein transduction domain of HIV-1 TAT and the Leishmania antigen LACK (Leishmania homolog of receptors for activated C kinase), as TAT-fusion proteins facilitate major histocompatibility complex class I-dependent antigen presentation. In vitro, TAT-LACK-pulsed DCs induced stronger proliferation of Leishmania-specific CD8 T cells compared with DCs incubated with LACK alone. Vaccination with TAT-LACK-pulsed DCs or fusion proteins plus adjuvant in vivo significantly improved disease outcome in Leishmania major-infected mice and was superior to vaccination with DCs treated with LACK alone. Vaccination with DCTAT-LACK resulted in stronger proliferation of CD8 T cells when compared with immunization with DCLACK. Upon depletion of CD4 or CD8 T cells, TAT-LACK-mediated protection was lost. TAT-LACK-pulsed IL-12p40-deficient DCs did not promote protection in vivo. In summary, these data show that TAT-fusion proteins are superior in activating Leishmania-specific Tc1 cells when compared with antigen alone and suggest that IL-12-dependent preferential induction of antigen-specific CD8 cells promotes significant protection against this important human pathogen.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2602-2610
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Investigative Dermatology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2010


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