Cell-penetrating peptides (CPP) or membrane-translocating peptides such as penetratin from Antennapedia homeodomain or TAT from human immunodeficiency virus are useful vectors for the delivery of protein antigens or their cytotoxic (Tc) or helper (Th) T cell epitopes to antigen-presenting cells. Mice immunized with CPP containing immunogens elicit antigen-specific Tc and/or Th responses and could be protected from tumor challenges. In the present paper, we investigate the mechanism of class I and class II antigen presentation of ovalbumin covalently linked to penetratin (AntpOVA) by bone marrow-derived dendritic cells with the use of biochemical inhibitors of various pathways of antigen processing and presentation. Results from our study suggested that uptake of AntpOVA is via a combination of energy-independent (membrane fusion) and energy-dependent pathways (endocytosis). Once internalized by either mechanism, multiple tap-dependent or independent antigen presentation pathways are accessed while not completely dependent on proteasomal processing but involving proteolytic trimming in the ER and Golgi compartments. Our study provides an understanding on the mechanism of antigen presentation mediated by CPP and leads to greater insights into future development of vaccine formulations.
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This work was supported by the National Breast
Cancer Foundation Kathleen Cuningham project grant (VA, GP) and
Susan G Komen for the Cure (GP). All authors were also supported by
The Austin Research Institute and by the Victorian Operational
Infrastructure Support Program.