Effective stimulation of immune cells is crucial for the success of cancer immunotherapies. Current approaches to evaluate the efficiency of stimuli are mainly defined by known flow cytometry-based cell activation or cell maturation markers. This method however does not give a complete overview of the achieved activation state and may leave important side effects unnoticed. Here, we used an unbiased RNA sequencing (RNA-seq)-based approach to compare the capacity of four clinical-grade dendritic cell (DC) activation stimuli used to prepare DC-vaccines composed of various types of DC subsets; the already clinically applied GM-CSF and Frühsommer meningoencephalitis (FSME) prophylactic vaccine and the novel clinical grade adjuvants protamine-RNA complexes (pRNA) and CpG-P. We found that GM-CSF and pRNA had similar effects on their target cells, whereas pRNA and CpG-P induced stronger type I interferon (IFN) expression than FSME. In general, the pathways most affected by all stimuli were related to immune activity and cell migration. GMCSF stimulation, however, also induced a significant increase of genes related to nonsense-mediated decay, indicating a possible deleterious effect of this stimulus. Taken together, the two novel stimuli appear to be promising alternatives. Our study demonstrates how RNA-seq based investigation of changes in a large number of genes and gene groups can be exploited for fast and unbiased, global evaluation of clinicalgrade stimuli, as opposed to the general limited evaluation of a pre-specified set of genes, by which one might miss important biological effects that are detrimental for vaccine efficacy.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Adjuvants, Dendritic cells, Immunotherapy, Protamine-RNA, RNA sequencing, Transcriptomics
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.15190, hdl.handle.net/1765/98916
Journal Oncotarget
Mathan, T.S.M, Textor, J. (Johannes), Sköld, A.E, Reinieren-Beeren, I, van Oorschot, T. (Tom), Brüning, M. (Mareke), … de Vries, I.J.M. (2017). Harnessing RNA sequencing for global, unbiased evaluation of two new adjuvants for dendritic-cell immunotherapy. Oncotarget, 8(12), 19879–19893. doi:10.18632/oncotarget.15190