American Association for Cancer Research
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FIGURE 3 from Identification of Enhanced Vaccine Mimotopes for the p15E Murine Cancer Antigen

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posted on 2024-04-02, 14:20 authored by Shiqi Zhou, Yiting Song, Yuan Luo, Breandan Quinn, Yang Jiao, Mark D. Long, Scott I. Abrams, Jonathan F. Lovell

The p15E-3M mimotope induces improved cytotoxic T-cell responses in vitro. A, Mean fluorescence intensity (MFI) of the indicated peptides bound to RMA-S cells after staining with PE-labeled anti-mouse H-2Kb antibody. B, Binding stability of the indicated peptide with RMA-S MHC-I molecules. Mice were immunized with 2 µg of the indicated peptide liposomal vaccine per injection on days 0 and day 7. C, The percentage of p15E-specific CD8+ T cells in all CD8+ T cells from blood tested on day 14. Splenocytes were collected on day 14 for cytotoxic CD8+ T-cell generation and lytic activity evaluation from the indicated groups (D). Splenocytes were stimulated with the different peptides as indicated. E, IFNγ ELISPOT assays were recorded. Datapoints represent mean values of 3 mice from the same group for A, B, and E; represent mean values of four mice for D. Datapoints represent individual values for each mouse for C. Statistical analysis applied one-way ANOVA followed by Tukey multiple comparisons tests. *, **, ***, and **** indicating P < 0.05, 0.01, 0.001, and 0.0001, or respectively compared with the 3M group in E; #,### indicating P < 0.05, 0.001, respectively compared with 3C group in E. Error bars show mean +, ±, or − SD.


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Mimotopes of short CD8+ T-cell epitopes generally comprise one or more mutated residues, and can increase the immunogenicity and function of peptide cancer vaccines. We recently developed a two-step approach to generate enhanced mimotopes using positional peptide microlibraries and herein applied this strategy to the broadly used H-2Kb–restricted murine leukemia p15E tumor rejection epitope. The wild-type p15E epitope (sequence: KSPWFTTL) was poorly immunogenic in mice, even when combined with a potent peptide nanoparticle vaccine system and did not delay p15E-expressing MC38 tumor growth. Following positional microlibrary functional screening of over 150 mimotope candidates, two were identified, both with mutations at residue 3 (p15E-P3C; “3C,” and p15E-P3M; “3M”) that better induced p15E-specific CD8+ T cells and led to tumor rejection. Although 3M was more immunogenic, 3C effectively delayed tumor growth in a therapeutic setting relative to the wild-type p15E. As 3C had less H-2Kb affinity relative to both p15E and 3M, 15 additional mimotope candidates (all that incorporated the 3C mutation) were assessed that maintained or improved predicted MHC-I affinity. Valine substitution at position 2 (3C2V, sequence: KVCWFTTL) led to improved p15E-specific immunogenicity, tumor rejection, and subsequent long-term antitumor immunity. 3C, 3M, and 3C2V mimotopes were more effective than p15E in controlling MC38 and B16-F10 tumors. T-cell receptor (TCR) sequencing revealed unique TCR transcripts for mimotopes, but there were no major differences in clonality. These results provide new p15E mimotopes for further vaccine use and illustrate considerations for MHC-I affinity, immunogenicity, and functional efficacy in mimotope design. The MHC-I–restricted p15E tumor rejection epitope is expressed in multiple murine cancer lines and is used as a marker of antitumor cellular immunity, but has seen limited success as a vaccine immunogen. An in vivo screening approach based on a positional peptide microlibraries is used to identify enhanced p15E mimotopes bearing amino acid mutations that induce significantly improved functional immunogenicity relative to vaccination with the wild-type epitope.

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