Determining the mechanism of Ag loading of Langerhans cells (LC) for genetic immunization (GI) is complicated by the inability to distinguish between the response generated by direct transfection of LC from that due to exogenous uptake. To unravel this mechanism, we examined the impact of gene gun treatment on LC with respect to their activation and migration from skin, transgene expression, and ability to initiate humoral and cellular immune responses upon transfer to naive mice. To assess responses generated by direct LC transfection, an RU486-inducible expression system was used as a GI vector. In vitro skin organ cultures were developed from gene gun immunized mouse ear specimens to obtain LC. Gene gun treatment markedly augmented (3-fold) LC migration from ear skin, and these LC expressed the transgene at RNA and protein levels. Transfer of 2 × 105 migratory cells resulted in identical cellular responses to, but 10-fold lower humoral responses than, standard GI. Using an RU486-inducible system, we were able to measure responses generated by directly transfected LC. Our results indicate that direct transfection is a predominant pathway for LC Ag loading. The ability to regulate transgene expression with inducible DC-based vaccines demonstrates a new level of immunological control.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy