Efficient delivery of tumor-specific antigens (TSAs) to lymph nodes (LNs) is essential to eliciting robust immune response for cancer immunotherapy but still remains unsolved. Herein, we evaluated the direct LN-targeting performance of four different protein nanoparticles with different size, shape, and origin [Escherichia coli DNA binding protein (DPS), Thermoplasma acidophilum proteasome (PTS), hepatitis B virus capsid (HBVC), and human ferritin heavy chain (hFTN)] in live mice, using an optical fluorescence imaging system. Based on the imaging results, hFTN that shows rapid LN targeting and prolonged retention in LNs was chosen as a carrier of the model TSA [red fluorescence protein (RFP)], and the flexible surface architecture of hFTN was engineered to densely present RFPs on the hFTN surface through genetic modification of subunit protein of hFTN. The RFP-modified hFTN rapidly targeted LNs, sufficiently exposed RFPs to LN immune cells during prolonged period of retention in LNs, induced strong RFP-specific cytotoxic CD8+ T cell response, and notably inhibited RFP-expressing melanoma tumor growth in live mice. This suggests that the strategy using protein nanoparticles as both TSA-carrying scaffold and anti-cancer vaccine holds promise for clinically effective immunotherapy of cancer.
ASJC Scopus subject areas