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S100A4 exerts robust mucosal adjuvant activity for co-administered antigens in mice

Chaudhuri, AS;Yeh, YW;Sun, JB;Zewdie, O;Jin, T;Wei, B;

The lack of clinically applicable mucosal adjuvants is a major hurdle in designing effective mucosal vaccines. We hereby report that the calcium-binding protein S100A4, which regulates a wide range of biological functions, is a potent mucosal adjuvant in mice for co-administered antigens, including the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, with comparable or even superior efficacy as cholera toxin but without causing any adverse reactions. Intranasal immunization with recombinant S100A4 elicited antigen-specific antibody and pulmonary cytotoxic T cell responses, and these responses were remarkably sustained for longer than six months. As a self-protein, S100A4 did not stimulate antibody responses against itself, a quality desired of adjuvants. S100A4 prolonged nasal residence of intranasally delivered antigens and promoted migration of antigen-presenting cells. S100A4-pulsed dendritic cells potently activated cognate T cells. Furthermore, S100A4 induced strong germinal center responses revealed by both microscopy and mass spectrometry, a novel technique for measuring germinal center activity. In conclusion, S100A4 may be a promising adjuvant in formulating mucosal vaccines, including vaccines against pathogens that infect via the respiratory tract, such as SARS-CoV-2.