Randomized peptide assemblies for enhancing immune responses to nanomaterials.


Biomaterials capable of inducing immune responses with minimal associated inflammation are of interest in applications ranging from tissue repair to vaccines. Here we report the design of self-assembling randomized polypeptide nanomaterials inspired by glatiramoids, an immunomodulatory class of linear random copolymers. We hypothesized that peptide self-assemblies bearing similar randomized polypeptides would similarly raise responses skewed toward Type 2 immunity and TH2 T-cell responses, additionally strengthening responses to co-assembled peptide epitopes in the absence of adjuvant. We developed a method for synthesizing self-assembling peptides terminated with libraries of randomized polypeptides (termed KEYA) with good batch-to-batch reproducibility. These peptides formed regular nanofibers and raised strong antibody responses without adjuvants. KEYA modifications dramatically improved uptake of peptide nanofibers in vitro by antigen presenting cells, and served as strong B-cell and T-cell epitopes in vivo, enhancing immune responses against epitopes relevant to influenza and chronic inflammation while inducing a KEYA-specific Type 2/TH2/IL-4 phenotype. KEYA modifications also increased IL-4 production by T cells, extended the residence time of nanofibers, induced no measurable swelling in footpad injections, and decreased overall T cell expansion compared to unmodified nanofibers, further suggesting a TH2 T-cell response with minimal inflammation. Collectively, this work introduces a biomaterial capable of raising strong Type 2/TH2/IL-4 immune responses, with potential applications ranging from vaccination to tissue repair.