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An HER2 DNA Vaccine with Evolution-Selected Amino Acid Substitutions Reveals a Fundamental Principle for Cancer Vaccine Formulation in HER2 Transgenic Mice

Richard F. Jones et al., Cancer Immunology, Immunotherapy (2019) - PMID: 31177328

Product(s) used in this publication:  Peptide ELISA

Abstract

Enhancement of endogenous immunity to tumor-associated self-antigens and neoantigens is the goal of preventive vaccination. Toward this goal, we compared the efficacy of the following HER2 DNA vaccine constructs: vaccines encoding wild-type HER2, hybrid HER2 vaccines consisting of human HER2 and rat Neu, HER2 vaccines with single residue substitutions and a novel human HER2 DNA vaccine, ph(es)E2TM. ph(es)E2TM was designed to contain five evolution-selected substitutions: M198V, Q398R, F425L, H473R and A622T that occur frequently in 12 primate HER2 sequences. These ph(es)E2TM substitutions score 0 to 1 in blocks substitutions matrix (BLOSUM), indicating minimal biochemical alterations. h(es)E2TM recombinant protein is recognized by a panel of anti-HER2 mAbs, demonstrating the preservation of HER2 protein structure. Compared to native human HER2, electrovaccination of HER2 transgenic mice with ph(es)E2TM induced a threefold increase in HER2-binding antibody (Ab) and elevated levels of IFNγ-producing T cells. ph(es)E2TM, but not pE2TM immune serum, recognized HER2 peptide p95 355LPESFDGDPASNTAP369, suggesting a broadening of epitope recognition induced by the minimally modified HER2 vaccine. ph(es)E2TM vaccination reduced tumor growth more effectively than wild-type HER2 or HER2 vaccines with more extensive modifications. The elevation of tumor immunity by ph(es)E2TM vaccination would create a favorable tumor microenvironment for neoantigen priming, further enhancing the protective immunity. The fundamental principle of exploiting evolution-selected amino acid substitutions is novel, effective and applicable to vaccine development in general.

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