Product(s) used in this publication: Absolutely Quantified Peptides SpikeTides™ TQL
Self-amplifying mRNAs (SAM)-based vaccines have been shown to induce a robust immune response in various animal species against both viral and bacterial pathogens. Due to their synthetic nature and to the versatility of the manufacturing process, SAM technology may represent an attractive solution for rapidly producing novel vaccines, which is particularly critical in case of pandemic infections or diseases mediated by newly emerging pathogens. Recent published data support the hypothesis that Antigen Presenting Cells (APCs) are responsible for CD8+ T-cell priming after SAM vaccination, suggesting cross-priming as the key mechanism for antigen presentation by SAM vaccines. In our study we investigated the possibility to enhance the immune response induced in mice by a single immunization with SAM by increasing the recruitment of APCs at the site of injection. To enhance SAM immunogenicity, we selected murine granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) as a model chemoattractant for APCs, and developed a SAM-GM-CSF vector. We evaluated whether the use of SAM-GM-CSF in combination with a SAM construct encoding the Influenza A virus nucleoprotein (NP) would lead to an increase of APC recruitment and NP-specific immune response. We indeed observed that the administration of SAM-GM-CSF enhances the recruitment of APCs at the injection site. Consistently with our hypothesis, co-administration of SAM-GM-CSF with SAM-NP significantly improved the magnitude of NP-specific CD8+ T-cell response both in terms of frequency of cytotoxic antigen-specific CD8+ T-cells and their functional activity in vivo. Furthermore, co-immunization with SAM-GM-CSF and SAM-NP provided an increase in protection against a lethal challenge with influenza virus. In conclusion, we demonstrated that increased recruitment of APCs at the site of injection is associated with an enhanced effectiveness of SAM vaccination and might be a powerfultool to potentiate the efficacy of RNA vaccination.