An improved conjugate vaccine technology; induction of antibody responses to the tumor vasculature

Elisabeth J.M. Huijbers, Judy R. van Beijnum, Chung T. Lê, Sofya Langman, Patrycja Nowak-Sliwinska, Kevin H. Mayo, Arjan W. Griffioen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The induction of an antibody response against self-antigens requires a conjugate vaccine technology, where the self-antigen is conjugated to a foreign protein sequence, and the co-application of a potent adjuvant. The choice of this foreign sequence is crucial as a very strong antibody response towards it may compromise the anti-self immune response. Here, we aimed to optimize the conjugate design for application of vaccination against the tumor vasculature, using two different approaches. First, the immunogenicity of the previously employed bacterial thioredoxin (TRX) was reduced by using a truncated from (TRXtr). Second, the Escherichia coli proteome was scrutinized to identify alternative proteins, based on immunogenicity and potency to increase solubility, suitable for use in a conjugate vaccine. This technology was used for vaccination against a marker of the tumor vasculature, the well-known extra domain B (EDB) of fibronectin. We demonstrate that engineering of the foreign sequence of a conjugate vaccine can significantly improve antibody production. The TRXtr construct outperformed the one containing full-length TRX, for the production of anti-self antibodies to EDB. In addition, efficient tumor growth inhibition was observed with the new TRXtr-EDB vaccine. Microvessel density was decreased and enhanced leukocyte infiltration was observed, indicative of an active immune response directed against the tumor vasculature. Summarizing, we have identified a truncated form of the foreign antigen TRX that can improve conjugate vaccine technology for induction of anti-self antibody titers. This technology was named Immuno-Boost (I-Boost). Our findings are important for the clinical development of cancer vaccines directed against self antigens, e.g. the ones selectively found in the tumor vasculature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3054-3060
Number of pages7
Issue number21
StatePublished - May 17 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the European Union ( PIEF-GA-2013-626797 to PNS and GENE-FP7-PEOPLE-2012-IEF to EJH), the European Research Council ( ERC-StG-2015-680209 to PNS), and the Dutch Cancer Society – Netherlands ( VU 2012-5480 to JvB and AWG and VU2014-7234 to AWG and PNS) for financial support. We also thank Magdalena Ortiz Zacarías and Denise Kal for their help.


  • Antibody
  • Antigen
  • Cancer
  • Conjugate vaccine
  • EDB
  • Fusion protein
  • Immunology/immunotherapy
  • Lysyl oxidase

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