DNA vaccines against human papillomavirus (HPV) type 16 have not been successful in clinical trials, due to the lack of an appropriate delivery system. In this study, a peptide-based gene delivery system, MPG, which forms stable non-covalent nanoparticles with nucleic acids, was used for in vitro and in vivo delivery of HPV16 E7 DNA as a model antigen. The results demonstrated that at Nitrogen/Phosphate (N/P) ratio over 10:1, this peptide can effectively condense plasmid DNA into stable nanoparticles with an average size of 180-210nm and a positive surface charge. The transfection efficiency of MPG-based nanoparticles was shown to be comparable with Polyethyleneimine (PEI). The efficient protein expression detected by western blotting and flow cytometry supports the potential of MPG-based nanoparticles as a potent delivery system in DNA vaccine formulations. Immunization with MPG/E7DNA nanoparticles at an N/P ratio of 10:1 induced a stronger Th1 cellular immune response with a predominant interferon-γ (IFN-γ) profile than those induced by E7DNA alone in a murine tumor model. These findings suggest that MPG peptide as a novel gene delivery system could have promising applications in improving HPV therapeutic vaccines.
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