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    Vaccination has been playing an important role in treating both infectious and cancerous diseases. Nevertheless, many diseases still lack proper vaccines due to the difficulty to generate sufficient amounts of antigen-specific antibodies or T cells. Adjuvants provide an important route to improve and direct immune responses. However, there are few adjuvants approved clinically and many of them lack the clear structure/adjuvanticity relationship. Here, we synthesized and evaluated a series of dendronized polypeptides (denpols) functionalized with varying tryptophan/histidine (W/H) molar ratios of 0/100, 25/75, 50/50, 75/25, and 100/0 as tunable synthetic adjuvants. The denpols showed structure-dependent inflammasome activation in THP1 monocytic cells and structure-related activation and antigen cross-presentation in vitro in bone marrow-derived dendritic cells. We used the denpols with bacterial pathogen Coxiella burnetii antigens in vivo, which showed both high and tunable adjuvating activities, as demonstrated by the antigen-specific antibody and T cell responses. The denpols are easy to make and scalable, biodegradable, and have highly adjustable chemical structures. Taken together, denpols show great potential as a new and versatile adjuvant platform that allows us to adjust adjuvanticity based on structure-activity correlation with the aim to fine-tune the immune response, thus advancing vaccine development.


    Zhiyuan Fan, Sharon Jan, James C Hickey, D Huw Davies, Jiin Felgner, Philip L Felgner, Zhibin Guan. Multifunctional Dendronized Polypeptides for Controlled Adjuvanticity. Biomacromolecules. 2021 Dec 13;22(12):5074-5086

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    PMID: 34788023

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