2022 Volume 45 Issue 12 Pages 1798-1804
OX40, a member of the tumor necrosis factor (TNF) receptor superfamily, is induced on activated T cells. Membrane-bound OX40 ligand (OX40L) expressed by activated antigen-presenting cells induces OX40 signaling, which promotes T cell immunity. OX40 agonism would be a potential target for immunotherapy, however, it remains unclear how the activity of OX40 can be successfully controlled by a designer OX40L protein. We prepared a soluble OX40L protein possessing a PA-peptide tag and a collagenous trimerization domain from mannose-binding lectin (MBL), and tested whether PA-MBL-OX40L fusion protein worked as an agonist for OX40. We found that the majority of recombinant PA-MBL-OX40L protein purified from culture supernatants displayed a trimer structure and bound to cell surface OX40 or OX40-Fc fusion protein in a dose-dependent manner. Upon stimulation of CD4+ T cells with TCR/CD3 without CD28, PA-MBL-OX40L displayed significantly increased proliferative and cytokine responses when compared with a benchmark agonistic monoclonal antibody for OX40. Both soluble and immobilized forms of PA-MBL-OX40L induced potent OX40 signaling in CD4+ T cells. Mice administered with PA-MBL-OX40L displayed significantly augmented T cell-mediated delayed-type hypersensitivity responses. Our results suggest that activity of OX40L could be engineered to elicit better T cell responses by rational design of its assembly and architecture.