Date of Graduation


Document Type

Dissertation (PhD)

Program Affiliation


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Advisor/Committee Chair

Larry W Kwak

Committee Member

Michel Gilliet /Bradely W McIntyre

Committee Member

Sattva S Neelapu

Committee Member

Willem Overwijk

Committee Member

James Reuben

Committee Member

Qing Yi


Vaccines which use the strategy of fusing adjuvant murine â-defensin2 (mBD2) to an antigen in order to elicit stronger anti-antigen immune responses are referred to as murine â-defensin2 (mBD2) vaccines. Previous studies have validated the potential of mBD2 vaccines, thus in this study we focus on increasing vaccine efficacy as well as mechanism elucidation. Initially, we demonstrate superior IFN-ã release levels by antigen specific effector T cells when antigen is crosspresented by dendritic cells (DC) which absorbed mBD2 vaccine (mBD2 fused antigen protein) over antigen alone. We move unto an in vivo model and note significant increases in the expansion of antigen specific class I T cells but not class II T cells when receiving mBD2 vaccine over antigen alone. Further, knowing mBD2’s link with CC chemokine receptor 6 (CCR6) and Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) we note that this enhanced class I T cell expansion is CCR6 independent but TLR4 dependent. With anti-tumor responses desired, we demonstrate in tumor protection experiments with mice, compelling tumor protection when combining adoptive T cell therapy and mBD2 vaccine immunization. We further note that mBD2 vaccines are not limited by the antigen and characterize a viable strategy for enhancing tumor antigen immunogenicity.


cancer vaccine, defensin beta 2, TLR4