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The ability of DNA vaccines to provide effective immunological protection against infection and tumors depends on their ability to generate good CD4+ and CD8+ T-cell responses. Priming of these responses is a property of dendritic cells (DCs), and so the efficacy of DNA-encoded vaccines is likely to depend on the way in which the antigens they encode are processed by DCs. This processing could either be via the synthesis of the vaccine-encoded antigen by the DCs themselves or via its uptake by DCs following its synthesis in bystander cells that are unable to prime T cells. These different sources of antigen are likely to engage different antigen-processing pathways, which are the subject of this review. Understanding how to access different processing pathways in DCs may ultimately aid the rational development of plasmid-based vaccines to pathogens and to cancer.

Original publication




Journal article


Immunological reviews

Publication Date





27 - 39


Cancer Sciences Division, University of Southampton School of Medicine, Southampton General Hospital, Southampton, UK.


Dendritic Cells, Animals, Humans, Peptides, Vaccines, DNA, Cancer Vaccines, Histocompatibility Antigens Class I, Histocompatibility Antigens Class II, Transfection, Antigen Presentation