Plasmacytoid and conventional dendritic cells cooperate in crosspriming AAV capsid-specific CD8+ T cells

Geoffrey L. Rogers, Jamie L. Shirley, Irene Zolotukhin, Sandeep R. P. Kumar, Alexandra Sherman, George Q. Perrin, Brad E. Hoffman, Arun Srivastava, Etiena Basner-Tschakarjan, Mark A. Wallet, Cox Terhorst, Moanaro Biswas and Roland W. Herzog

Key Points

  • Crosspriming of AAV capsid-specific CD8+ T cells requires cooperation between distinct subsets of DCs.

  • Innate immune sensing of the viral DNA genome induces cross-presentation of viral capsid in trans.


Adeno-associated virus (AAV) is a replication-deficient parvovirus that is extensively used as a gene therapy vector. CD8+ T-cell responses against the AAV capsid protein can, however, affect therapeutic efficacy. Little is known about the in vivo mechanism that leads to the crosspriming of CD8+ T cells against the input viral capsid antigen. In this study, we report that the Toll-like receptor 9 (TLR9)–MyD88 pattern-recognition receptor pathway is uniquely capable of initiating this response. By contrast, the absence of TLR2, STING, or the addition of TLR4 agonist has no effect. Surprisingly, both conventional dendritic cells (cDCs) and plasmacytoid DCs (pDCs) are required for the crosspriming of capsid-specific CD8+ T cells, whereas other antigen-presenting cells are not involved. TLR9 signaling is specifically essential in pDCs but not in cDCs, indicating that sensing of the viral genome by pDCs activates cDCs in trans to cross-present capsid antigen during CD8+ T-cell activation. Cross-presentation and crosspriming depend not only on TLR9, but also on interferon type I signaling, and both mechanisms can be inhibited by administering specific molecules to prevent induction of capsid-specific CD8+ T cells. Thus, these outcomes directly point to therapeutic interventions and demonstrate that innate immune blockade can eliminate unwanted immune responses in gene therapy.

  • Submitted November 10, 2016.
  • Accepted May 1, 2017.
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