Pattern recognition receptor agonists in pathogen vaccines mediate antitumor T-cell cross-priming

Mark Aleynick, Judit Svensson-Arvelund, Gvantsa Pantsulaia, Kristy Kim, Samuel A. Rose, Ranjan Upadhyay, Michael Yellin, Henry Marsh, Daniel Oreper, Suchit Jhunjhunwala, Christine Carine Moussion, Miriam Merad, Brian D. Brown, Joshua D. Brody

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background Cancer immunotherapies are generally effective in patients whose tumors contain a priori primed T-cells reactive to tumor antigens (TA). One approach to prime TA-reactive T-cells is to administer immunostimulatory molecules, cells, or pathogens directly to the tumor site, that is, in situ vaccination (ISV). We recently described an ISV using Flt3L to expand and recruit dendritic cells (DC), radiotherapy to load DC with TA, and pattern recognition receptor agonists (PRRa) to activate TA-loaded DC. While ISV trials using synthetic PRRa have yielded systemic tumor regressions, the optimal method to activate DCs is unknown. Methods To discover optimal DC activators and increase access to clinical grade reagents, we assessed whether viral or bacterial components found in common pathogen vaccines are an effective source of natural PRRa (naPRRa). Using deep profiling (155-metric) of naPRRa immunomodulatory effects and gene editing of specific PRR, we defined specific signatures and molecular mechanisms by which naPRRa potentiate T-cell priming. Results We observed that vaccine naPRRa can be even more potent in activating Flt3L-expanded murine and human DCs than synthetic PRRa, promoting cross-priming of TA-reactive T-cells. We developed a mechanistically diverse naPRRa combination (BCG, PedvaxHIB, Rabies) and noted more potent T-cell cross-priming than with any single naPRRa. The naPRRa triplet-as part of Flt3L-primed ISV-induced greater intratumoral CD8 T-cell infiltration, T-cells reactive to a newly defined tumorous neoantigen, durable tumor regressions. Conclusions This work provides rationale for the translation of pathogen vaccines as FDA-approved clinical-grade DC activators which could be exploited as immune-stimulants for early phase trials.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere007198
JournalJournal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer
Issue number7
StatePublished - 24 Jul 2023


  • Adjuvants, Immunologic
  • Antigen Presentation
  • Dendritic Cells
  • Immunotherapy, Active
  • Vaccination


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