Idiotypic determinants can act as tumor-associated Ags for B cell lymphoma. Vaccination with idiotypic protein and adjuvant is known to induce specific protection against lymphoma challenge in mice, largely mediated by anti-idiotypic Ab. For facilitating the approach for patients, the V(H) and V(L) genes used to encode the individual idiotypic determinants of each tumor can be obtained by PCR and assembled as single chain Fv (scFv). DNA vaccines containing scFv sequences alone induce low and poorly reproducible levels of anti-idiotypic Ab, likely to be insufficient to suppress tumor in patients. In addition, it may be necessary to break tolerance to Id in tumor bearers. By fusing the gene for fragment C of tetanus toxin to the C terminus of human scFv, we have promoted the anti-scFv Ab response in mice by >50-fold in three of three cases. The induced Abs are mainly against idiotypic determinants, and react specifically with patients' tumor cells, indicating optimal folding of the scFv molecule in the fusion protein. For both antigenic components of the DNA vaccine, the IgG subclass distribution showed a relative increase in IgG2a as compared with vaccination with IgM protein in adjuvant. In patients, the fusion gene should both promote anti-idiotypic Ab and induce Abs against fragment C of tetanus toxin. The latter response would provide a potentially useful comparative measure of the ability of patients to respond to conventional Ag delivered via DNA.

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