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Tr1 cell-mediated protection against autoimmune disease by intranasal administration of a fusion protein targeting cDC1 cells

Hansson, C;Lebrero-Fernández, C;Schön, K;Angeletti, D;Lycke, N;

Curative therapies against autoimmune diseases are lacking. Indeed, most of the currently available treatments are only targeting symptoms. We have developed a novel strategy for a therapeutic vaccine against autoimmune diseases based on intranasal administration of a fusion protein tolerogen, which consists of a mutant, enzymatically inactive, cholera toxin A1 (CTA1)-subunit genetically fused to disease-relevant high-affinity peptides and a dimer of D-fragments from protein A (DD). The CTA1 R7K mutant – myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein (MOG), or proteolipid protein (PLP) – DD (CTA1R7K-MOG/PLP-DD) fusion proteins effectively reduced clinical symptoms in the experimental autoimmune encephalitis model of multiple sclerosis. The treatment induced Tr1 cells, in the draining lymph node, which produced interleukin (IL)-10 and suppressed effector clusters of differentiation 4+ T-cell responses. This effect was dependent on IL-27 signaling because treatment was ineffective in bone marrow chimeras lacking IL-27Ra within their hematopoietic compartment. Single-cell RNA sequencing of dendritic cells in draining lymph nodes demonstrated distinct gene transcriptional changes of classic dendritic cells 1, including enhanced lipid metabolic pathways, induced by the tolerogenic fusion protein. Thus, our results with the tolerogenic fusion protein demonstrate the possibility to vaccinate and protect against disease progression by reinstating tolerance in multiple sclerosis and other autoimmune diseases.