The mechanism(s) by which DNA vaccines activate Ag-specific cellular immune responses is incompletely understood. Current findings indicate that IRF-3 plays an important role in this process. The IRF-3 dependent signaling pathway is triggered by the presence of intracytoplasmic DNA, and culminates in the production of type I IFNs. DNA vaccination of IRF-3 KO mice elicits a strong Ag-specific humoral response, yet CD4 and CD8 T cell responses (including the production of Th1, Th2 and Th17 cytokines) are severely impaired. Although expression of the immunogenic protein encoded by the DNA vaccine was similar in IRF-3 KO vs wild type mice, antigen presentation was severely impaired in the KO animals. This defect was remedied by the co-delivery of an IFNβ encoding plasmid. These findings suggest that the IRF-3/IFNβ pathways are key to the induction of cellular immunity following DNA vaccination.
- DNA vaccine
- Type1 IFNs