ABSTRACT: Antigen-encoding, lipoplex-formulated RNA (RNA-LPX) enables systemic delivery to lymphoid compart- ments and selective expression in resident antigen-presenting cells. We report here that the rejection of CT26 tumors, mediated by local radiotherapy (LRT), is further augmented in a CD8+ T cell-dependent manner by an RNA-LPX vaccine that encodes CD4+ T cell-recognized neoantigens (CD4 neoantigen vaccine). Whereas CD8+ T cells induced by LRT alone were primarily directed against the immunodomi- nant gp70 antigen, mice treated with LRT plus the CD4 neoantigen vaccine rejected gp70-negative tumors and were protected from rechallenge with these tumors, indicating a potent poly-antigenic CD8+ T cell response and T cell memory. In the spleens of CD4 neoantigen-vaccinated mice, we found a high number of activated, poly-functional, Th1-like CD4+ T cells against ME1, the immunodominant CD4 neoantigen within the poly-neoantigen vaccine. LRT itself strongly increased CD8+ T cell numbers and clonal expansion. However, tumor infiltrates of mice treated with CD4 neoantigen vaccine/LRT, as compared to LRT alone, displayed a higher fraction of activated gp70-specific CD8+ T cells, lower PD-1/ LAG-3 expression and contained ME1-specific IFNγ+ CD4+ T cells capable of providing cognate help. CD4 neoantigen vaccine/LRT treatment followed by anti-CTLA-4 antibody therapy further enhanced the efficacy with complete remission of gp70-negative CT26 tumors and survival of all mice. Our data highlight the power of combining synergistic modes of action and warrants further exploration of the presented treatment schema.
A liposomal RNA vaccine inducing neoantigen-specific CD4+ T cells augments the antitumor activity of local radiotherapy in mice
PD-L1 expression by dendritic cells is a key regulator of T-cell immunity in cancer
ABSTRACT: Inhibiting the programmed death-1 (PD-1) pathway is one of the most effective approaches to cancer immunotherapy, but its mechanistic basis remains incompletely understood. Binding of PD-1 to its ligand PD-L1 suppresses T-cell function in part by inhibiting CD28 signaling. Tumor cells and infiltrating myeloid cells can express PD-L1, with myeloid cells being of particular interest as they also express B7-1, a ligand for CD28 and PD-L1. Here we demonstrate that dendritic cells (DCs) represent a critical source of PD-L1, despite being vastly outnumbered by PD-L1+ macrophages. Deletion of PD-L1 in DCs, but not macrophages, greatly restricted tumor growth and led to enhanced antitumor CD8+ T-cell responses. Our data identify a unique role for DCs in the PD-L1–PD-1 regulatory axis and have implications for understanding the therapeutic mechanism of checkpoint blockade, which has long been assumed to reflect the reversal of T-cell exhaustion induced by PD-L1+ tumor cells.