Activation of the NLRP3 inflammasome by vault nanoparticles expressing a chlamydial epitope.

PMID 25448112


The full potential of vaccines relies on development of effective delivery systems and adjuvants and is critical for development of successful vaccine candidates. We have shown that recombinant vaults engineered to encapsulate microbial epitopes are highly stable structures and are an ideal vaccine vehicle for epitope delivery which does not require the inclusion of an adjuvant. We studied the ability of vaults which were engineered for use as a vaccine containing an immunogenic epitope of Chlamydia trachomatis, polymorphic membrane protein G (PmpG), to be internalized into human monocytes and behave as a "natural adjuvant". We here show that incubation of monocytes with the PmpG-1-vaults activates caspase-1 and stimulates IL-1β secretion through a process requiring the NLRP3 inflammasome and that cathepsin B and Syk are involved in the inflammasome activation. We also observed that the PmpG-1-vaults are internalized through a pathway that is transiently acidic and leads to destabilization of lysosomes. In addition, immunization of mice with PmpG-1-vaults induced PmpG-1 responsive CD4(+) cells upon re-stimulation with PmpG peptide in vitro, suggesting that vault vaccines can be engineered for specific adaptive immune responses. We conclude that PmpG-1-vault vaccines can stimulate NLRP3 inflammasomes and induce PmpG-specific T cell responses.