Oncolytic adenoviruses coated with MHC-I tumor epitopes increase the antitumor immunity and efficacy against melanoma

Cristian Capasso, Mari Hirvinen, Mariangela Garofalo, Dmitrii Romaniuk, Lukasz Kuryk, Teea Sarvela, Andrea Vitale, Maxim Antopolsky, Aniket Magarkar, Tapani Viitala, Teemu Suutari, Alex Bunker, Marjo Yliperttula, Arto Urtti, Vincenzo Cerullo*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

71 Citations (Scopus)


ABSTRACT: The stimulation of the immune system using oncolytic adenoviruses (OAds) has attracted significant interest and several studies suggested that OAds immunogenicity might be important for their efficacy. Therefore, we developed a versatile and rapid system to adsorb tumor-specific major histocompatibility complex class I (MHC-I) peptides onto the viral surface to drive the immune response toward the tumor epitopes. By studying the model epitope SIINFEKL, we demonstrated that the peptide-coated OAd (PeptiCRAd) retains its infectivity and the cross presentation of the modified-exogenous epitope on MHC-I is not hindered. We then showed that the SIINFEKL-targeting PeptiCRAd achieves a superior antitumor efficacy and increases the percentage of antitumor CD8+ T cells and mature epitope-specific dendritic cells in vivo. PeptiCRAds loaded with clinically relevant tumor epitopes derived from tyrosinase-related protein 2 (TRP-2) and human gp100 could reduce the growth of primary-treated tumors and secondary-untreated melanomas, promoting the expansion of antigen-specific T-cell populations. Finally, we tested PeptiCRAd in humanized mice bearing human melanomas. In this model, a PeptiCRAd targeting the human melanoma-associated antigen A1 (MAGE-A1) and expressing granulocyte and macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) was able to eradicate established tumors and increased the human MAGE-A1-specific CD8+ T cell population. Herein, we show that the immunogenicity of OAds plays a key role in their efficacy and it can be exploited to direct the immune response system toward exogenous tumor epitopes. This versatile and rapid system overcomes the immunodominance of the virus and elicits a tumor-specific immune response, making PeptiCRAd a promising approach for clinical testing.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2 Apr 2016
Externally publishedYes
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Cancer vaccine
  • humanized mice
  • immunotherapy
  • melanoma
  • oncolytic adenovirus
  • oncolytic vaccine
  • tumor epitopes


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