Traditional chemical adjuvants remain a practical means of enhancing the immunogenicity of vaccines. Nevertheless, it is recognized that increasing the immunogenicity of viral vectors is challenging. Recently, STING ligands have been shown to enhance the efficacy of different vaccine platforms, but their affectivity on viral-vectored vaccination has not been fully assessed. In this study we used a multi-pronged approach to shed light on the immunological properties and potential mechanisms of action of this type of adjuvant and focused our study on replication-deficient human adenovirus serotype 5 (AdHu5). When the STING ligand 2'3'-cGAMP was mixed with AdHu5, the adjuvant enhanced anti-vector immune responses while decreasing the transgene-specific CD8+ T cell response. Studies employing STING-knockout mice and a 2'3'-cGAMP inactive analogue confirmed the aforementioned effects were STING dependent. In vitro assays demonstrated 2'3'-cGAMP induced the production of IFN-β which in turn negatively affected AdHu5 transgene expression and CD8+ T cell immunogenicity. In an effort to overcome the negative impact of early 2'3'-cGAMP signaling on AdHu5 transgene immunogenicity, we generated a bicistronic vector encoding the 2'3'-cGAMP together with a model antigen. Intracellular production of 2'3'-cGAMP after AdHu5 infection was able to enhance transgene-specific CD8+ T cell immunogenicity, although not to a level that would warrant progression of this adjuvant to clinical assessment. This work highlights the importance of timing of 2'3'-cGAMP administration when assessing its adjuvant capacity with different vaccine modalities.
Adenoviruses, Human, Adjuvants, Immunologic, Animals, CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes, Genetic Vectors, Humans, Mice, Vaccination, Viral Vaccines