ACS chemical biology

Multivalent Antigens for Promoting B and T Cell Activation.

PMID 25970017


Efficacious vaccines require antigens that elicit productive immune system activation. Antigens that afford robust antibody production activate both B and T cells. Elucidating the antigen properties that enhance B-T cell communication is difficult with traditional antigens. We therefore used ring-opening metathesis polymerization to access chemically defined, multivalent antigens containing both B and T cell epitopes to explore how antigen structure impacts B cell and T cell activation and communication. The bifunctional antigens were designed so that the backbone substitution level of each antigenic epitope could be quantified using (19)F NMR. The T cell peptide epitope was appended so that it could be liberated in B cells via the action of the endosomal protease cathepsin D, and this design feature was critical for T cell activation. Antigens with high BCR epitope valency induce greater BCR-mediated internalization and T cell activation than did low valency antigens, and these high-valency polymeric antigens were superior to protein antigens. We anticipate that these findings can guide the design of more effective vaccines.